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meparks at mtholyoke.edu meparks at mtholyoke.edu
Fri Jan 23 11:52:43 EST 2004


Quoting Charles Butler <hannibal at thegates.fsbusiness.co.uk>:

Where does the US practice of following a colon with a
> capital letter come from? Here in the UK it would be considered just plain
> wrong, but it seems to be fairly widespread in the States, at least where
> what follows the colon is an independent clause rather than a list. Is this
> an American invention? Or is it something that used to be done here too,
> but
> which died out, like faucet and fall?
> 

As far as I know, that's limited to certain types of writing, and I wouldn't 
call it widespread, but I'm sure that there's somebody out there who knows more 
than I do ;)

My question is--has the idea of a comma splice being a bad thing died out in 
the UK?  I feel like British authors are a lot freer with commas than American 
authors, and I know that I spent at least a year in high school (along with my 
junior Advanced Placement English class) having the idea that comma splices are 
evil drummed into my head.  When I mentioned this to a few people in the UK, 
they had no idea what I was talking about, but this might have been due to the 
people I asked.  I've just searched for a website on this: 
http://www.ucfv.bc.ca/writing_centre/res9.htm

The first example it gives of a comma splice is: The island is covered in 
berries, birds and bears love it.  My English teacher would tell you that this 
is incorrect because it's two independent clauses joined by only a comma; I 
have seen this quite a few times in presumably copy-edited British novels.

I think it's one of those things where had I no idea what it was, it wouldn't 
bother me at all, but as I do, it bothers me a lot.  I can overlook most 
misused semicolons and the like if I try to, and I usually don't look for that 
type of thing in romance novels, for example.

And to Caroline: I mostly overlook the grammar in Judith McNaught's work and 
other romance novels; what's driving me crazy these days is a) the fact that 
most authors seem to only have about three (and that's a generous number) plots 
that they recycle without any shame at all, and b) that most romance novelists 
have some political/moral viewpoints that annoy me greatly.  Judith McNaught, 
for example, not only seems to be quite conservative, but has several digs in 
her novels at bleeding heart liberals, while she glorifies the life of the 
Texas billionare (which in her world it's quite easy to be).  Jude Deveraux 
_never_ portrays a homosexual character in a positive light; the closest she 
comes is having a straight man "act" gay by engaging in stereotypical behavour, 
and nobody believes he's gay anyway because he's too oversexed in a 
heterosexual way.  Also, many of her bad guys exhibit some sort of homosexual 
behaviour, usually in a deviant way.  Elizabeth Lowell is another one with an 
agenda that bothers me: her books usually feature what seem to be two of the 
last moral people on Earth (both are very aware that they are superior in this 
sense and self-congratulatory about it), who talk proudly about their old 
fashioned morals while judging most of the rest of the world wildly.  It also 
seems that this shared disdain for everyone else is what love is based on.  The 
thing I really hate about her novels, though, is that she writes a lot about 
art and gemstones and the rich people who can afford them, and I've given up 
reading her novels because every time I do I come out feeling like the only 
things that are really worth having in life cost a _lot_ of money, if I was 
really a valid person I'd recognize them at sight, and because I'll never be 
that rich I'll never own anything that's really worth owning.

. . . I think I was more annoyed at all of that than I realized ;)

lizzie

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