Via Peter Griffin, I came across this interesting article on punctuation, and I take my hat off to Google Adwords. The article dealt, among other things, with unnecessary commas, and the ad just besides it, served up by Google, was a Make My Trip ad that advertised fares on three sectors as being Rs. ‘1,983’, ‘1,705’ and ‘3,271’ respectively. (Here’s a screenshot.) One can argue about serial commas endlessly, but there seems no question that these commas are truly unnecessary—and ugly. Do these aesthetic considerations matter to you as well?
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Aside: After I wrote My Friend Sancho, my editor and I spent an hour in argument about whether we need a comma when a character says “Yes sir.” I felt it would be an ugly intrusion and served no functional purpose; she felt it was required. I eventually gave in, saving my energy for bigger battles that never came. (She’s an extraordinarily good editor, and I mostly agreed with her.) But we laugh about that argument today, over such a trivial thing. I mean, what’s the big deal about a comma, right?
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We will not discuss Thurber and Ross here.