Sunday, July 1, 2012

What Did the Comma Ever Do To You?

Last week I was musing aloud about blog ideas in front of my brother. He told me to write about commas--about why you don't see them much anymore, and about why, at times, you NEED to see them more.

My thought was "Been done." Everyone gripes about the sad state of what amounts to bad editing of the published word.

Then I visited Lubriderm's website, to send them a note asking why their "Fragrance Free" lotion smells. I tried to be informative about the problem, explain that the scent wasn't as strong as the regular lotion. I asked if this was an error in the batch or if they'd changed their formula. I had a limit of 500 words to use in my complaint, and I said what I had to say, politely I thought, in less than 100. I hit "SEND."

A little red warning came up: "Illegal character used in comments."

Huh? I checked my wording to make sure I hadn't mistakenly inserted "&" or "#" or "}." No, everything looked fine. To be sure, I took out the one contraction I'd used, in case the apostrophe was the problem. Hit "SEND" again. Same message.

Then it occurred to me that they might mean commas. I went into denial. How could a comma be called an illegal character? Who wrote that law?

Yet, sure enough, when I went back and ethnically-cleansed the comments of commas, retyping them in short sentences that sounded as if they'd been written by 4 year-old, the complaint was accepted.

You must to be kidding, Lubriderm.

Or I suppose, to get through to them, I'd have to say "You must be kidding Lubriderm."

Which means something completely different.


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