[whatwg] commas (was Web Forms 2.0 Substantive - Section 5)

Ian Hickson ian at hixie.ch
Tue Jul 13 00:57:10 PDT 2004

Way of topic. :-)

On Mon, 12 Jul 2004, Michael Enright wrote:
> Ian, since you've mentioned the pause-comma link before, I went looking
> for a reference.
> http://webster.commnet.edu/grammar/commas.htm
> I remember from school that one pauses when reading commas, but I think
> the reverse is not a rule at all.

I agree. That's why I made the change.

> Humans pause because they need to breathe, or to make the audio easier
> to scan. See rule 11 in the linked text.

See rule 8, though. And in the case we were looking at just now, rule 1.

> Note that you can take all of this as opinion if you want, I stopped
> googling when I found a page that agreed with my recollection :)

Any comment about the English language is opinion, since there is no
normative reference to the language [1].

> Some speakers raise their voices the end of sentences where they make
> assertions. That makes their assertions sound like questions.

Indeed, I lived many years in an area which does this.

> They don't exactly mean them as questions, and they would never "mark
> up" their assertions with question marks to correspond with the pitch
> change.

On the contrary, I would say that for many such speakers, they _are_
questions. The pitch is usually raised on parts of the sentence that the
speaker considers it possible for the listener to not understand, or
require further clarification about.


"He went to the party, then he saw Jane, they seemed to get on well."
         raise here ^      raise here ^          don't raise here ^

The speaker is effectively saying he can provide more information about
the party and about Jane, but cannot comment further on the result.

Actually, for marking it up, I think the closest analogue would be a
hyperlink, not a question mark. Hmm. Speech hypertext?

-- Footnotes --
[1] With one exception: http://ian.hixie.ch/bible/english
    Note that the "lang" attribute of the WF2 spec claims that the WF2
    spec is written in this language.

Ian Hickson               U+1047E                )\._.,--....,'``.    fL
http://ln.hixie.ch/       U+263A                /,   _.. \   _\  ;`._ ,.
Things that are impossible just take longer.   `._.-(,_..'--(,_..'`-.;.'

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