On Tue, Apr 20, 2010 at 06:06:57PM +0300, Dotan Cohen wrote:
> These are contrived examples. 

I'm pretty sure that all the examples in Fowler are not contrived
examples: they're real ones from real texts.  And it's not as though
Fowler wasn't pretty keen on clarity and elegance in prose.

> In every case the writer could reword
> the sentence to remove the ambiguity, as I demonstrated in an earlier
> post. 

Sure, you can always rewrite a sentence in a way less idiomatic in
order to avoid the problem.  Alternatively, you could do the sensible
thing and use a comma to avoid ambiguity in an otherwise perfectly
normal English idiom.  Enumerations are ubiquitous, and it's not
unusual for items to be enumerated already to have embedded

> The problem is not the commas, the problem is the desire to find
> ambiguity and then to place blame.

I don't see who it is that's supposed to be placing blame here.

> A similar example for capitalization:

No, these are not similar to the obviously common case of having
conjunctions in the names of firms, in the way we refer to couples,
and so on.  "Jack and Jill" can refer to two individuals or to the
couple "Jack and Jill"; while context sometimes makes the intent
plain, in an enumeration with other conjunctions it might not be.


Andrew Sullivan
Shinkuro, Inc.

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