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was punctuation necessary here? Options
learner
Posted: Friday, April 17, 2009 3:12:20 AM
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While I was reading news in CNN the following sentence drew my attention:

"The Afghan government will change a law that critics say legalizes rape within marriage for Shia Muslims, President Hamid Karzai told CNN Thursday."

Is the above sentence properly punctuated or it should have been as follows:

"The Afghan government will change a law that, critics say, legalizes rape within marriage for Shia Muslims, President Hamid Karzai told CNN Thursday."

If anyone is interested to read the news on Afghanistan, follow the link below:

Afganistan to change law




Jacqui
Posted: Friday, April 17, 2009 6:53:26 AM
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I was always taught that if the sentence still made sense with the words between commas removed then it is right to have the commas. So for your senences above I think the second, corrected, version is more appropriate.
Toadfoot
Posted: Friday, April 17, 2009 8:03:39 AM
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I agree.
Toadfoot
Posted: Friday, April 17, 2009 8:43:50 AM
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I agree.
Luftmarque
Posted: Friday, April 17, 2009 12:43:49 PM

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Jacqui wrote:
I was always taught that if the sentence still made sense with the words between commas removed then it is right to have the commas. So for your sentences above I think the second, corrected, version is more appropriate.

Except that, in this case, the sense made is nowhere near the same as when the removed phrase critics say was still there. Without that addition, the implication is that the law explicitly legalizes rape or that characterizing what the law sanctions as rape is non-controversial. The government and lawmakers would not agree with that I am sure. So for this example it seems to me that the commas are not wanted and the sentence is stronger and better without them.

REVISION: I would find the sentence acceptable with the commas, were anyone to ask my opinion as an amateur proofreader. This is a question of style and tone I think. The sentence seems calmer to me with the commas, and that might be among a writer's legitimate goals.

I personally agree with the critics—this law is demeaning and cruel, a capitulation to armed thugs, and should be protested and fought by whatever means possible.
Jacqui
Posted: Friday, April 17, 2009 2:30:21 PM
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I too agree with the critics, but I still say the commas should be there as it I believe it is not whether the original complete meaning is held, but that the sentence still makes sense. I think the sentence is clumsy without them, a personal preference.

TBone
Posted: Friday, April 17, 2009 4:59:08 PM
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i would say no commas
betinho
Posted: Friday, April 17, 2009 5:57:41 PM
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i would like to ask something in addition, what is the correct way to say:

broadcasting on CNN or broadcasting at NCC.

thanks
Drew
Posted: Saturday, April 18, 2009 11:20:12 AM
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Luftmarque wrote:
Jacqui wrote:
I was always taught that if the sentence still made sense with the words between commas removed then it is right to have the commas. So for your sentences above I think the second, corrected, version is more appropriate.

Except that, in this case, the sense made is nowhere near the same as when the removed phrase critics say was still there. Without that addition, the implication is that the law explicitly legalizes rape or that characterizing what the law sanctions as rape is non-controversial. The government and lawmakers would not agree with that I am sure. So for this example it seems to me that the commas are not wanted and the sentence is stronger and better without them.


I agree with your conclusion, Luftmarque. I think adding the commas would be acceptable but unnecessary. Ultimately, this becomes a matter of preference. Personally, I try to avoid over-punctuating if punctuation is not necessary.
Eugene Wrayburn
Posted: Sunday, April 19, 2009 6:14:58 AM
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It seems to be acceptable these days to be mean with commas, however, as a reader of Dickens, I tend towards the old form.
raggie
Posted: Sunday, April 19, 2009 6:52:10 AM
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To me, it is seen not controversial, no another meaning can be implied. So comma is not a must here, is it so?
risadr
Posted: Sunday, April 19, 2009 12:30:46 PM
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Because I tend to agree with the critics, I would say that the first version of the sentence, without the commas, is the more accurate version, because it conveys a greater measure of feeling.

The commas calm the sentence down, yes, but they also dilute its meaning.
vr091073
Posted: Wednesday, May 13, 2009 3:04:24 PM
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Since this is a sentence excerpted from a news article we are concerned about, I would tend to think that, in the ultimate issue, it all boils down to the actual facts being reported. The insertion of the commas, which as a person fond of intricacies, I would've perhaps intuitively favoured, unarguably alters the meaning of the statement in a very subtle fashion. In general terms, whether or not punctuation is warranted is a decision which rests with the authoring journalist.

In this case, not having read the whole report, it is a tough call for me to make at this juncture. Luftmarque's analysis is brilliant; however, my opinion is that one would need to be privy to all details germane to this issue in order to determine which version corresponds better to reality. The same principle can be projected to any particular example, I would imagine.
krmiller
Posted: Wednesday, May 13, 2009 10:03:00 PM
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I think it's important to look at what's being reported in this sentence. What's being reported is not what the critics say; neither is it what the Afghan government is doing. What's being reported is what President Hamid Karzai said. Because of that, I think the sentence is better without the commas.

In the version without the commas, President Karzai seems to be talking primarily about the laws. In the version with the commas, he seems instead to be talking primarily about the critics. So it does depend on what he meant, but I would be inclined to go with the journalist who wrote it--especially since President Karzai probably didn't use those words, but talked only about the law.

Plus, in the version with the commas, at least without context, it seems on first read as though what's being reported is what the critics say.
vr091073
Posted: Thursday, May 14, 2009 1:33:13 AM
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krmiller wrote:
I think it's important to look at what's being reported in this sentence. What's being reported is not what the critics say; neither is it what the Afghan government is doing. What's being reported is what President Hamid Karzai said. Because of that, I think the sentence is better without the commas.

In the version without the commas, President Karzai seems to be talking primarily about the laws. In the version with the commas, he seems instead to be talking primarily about the critics. So it does depend on what he meant, but I would be inclined to go with the journalist who wrote it--especially since President Karzai probably didn't use those words, but talked only about the law.

Plus, in the version with the commas, at least without context, it seems on first read as though what's being reported is what the critics say.


A very plausible stance to adopt indeed.
krmiller
Posted: Sunday, May 17, 2009 8:49:56 PM
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vr091073 wrote:
A very plausible stance to adopt indeed.


I'll take that as a compliment Think
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