Yes, Virginia, There is a Punctuation Fairy

Filed under:Need a Good Editor?,Politics — posted by Anwyn on January 31, 2007 @ 3:35 pm

And she just handed Hillary et al a freebie. Am I going to have to turn this into a grammar/punctuation blog? New York Observer interviews Joe Biden:

Mr. Biden is equally skeptical—albeit in a slightly more backhanded way—about Mr. Obama. “I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy,” he said. “I mean, that’s a storybook, man.”

And Allah runs with it, saying that Drudge’s emphasis on “clean” isn’t the half of it. The “clean” is a non-starter for me; the man clearly means “clean-cut,” or, as others will have it, “free of corruption.”

On first read, though, the whole of it is a huge insult to past black candidates, almost irrespective of what office they were running for. But on listening to the audio, it becomes clear that the worst thing Biden said about any other black candidate is that they weren’t “mainstream.” It’s all about the missing comma–commas, let’s not forget, indicate a pause in the speaker’s words. On the audio there’s a pause big enough to drive a train through. Try it with the comma:

“I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American, who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy,” he said. “I mean, that’s a storybook, man.”

Patronizing to Obama it may be, but it’s no expression of all-encompassing racism.

Moral of the story: Listen to the audio. Moral of the story for New York Observer: Hire either a transcriptionist who knows the job or a copy editor who has access to the audio. Or both. That’s ridiculous.

one comment so far »

  1. I love the blog that you have. I was wondering if you would link my blog to yours and in return I would do the same for your blog. If you want to, my site name is American Legends and the URL is:

    If you want to do this just go to my blog and in one of the comments just write your blog name and the URL and I will add it to my site.


    Comment by J. Mark English — January 31, 2007 @ 3:49 pm

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