Comma-rhea

I’m going to put on my editor cap here, which I try not to do too often. It can really be annoying at times, both for me and for you, I’m sure. I try not to be the guy who corrects his friends when they use a questionable turn of phrase – that guy tends to not keep friends for very long. So I won’t do this often, but I just need to vent sometimes, and this is really starting to get on my nerves.

I was really hoping I had invented the term “comma-rhea” but I googled it and it got a hit from 2008. That’s okay, though; that the term exists assures me that I’m not alone in being driven nuts by it. It’s on my mind now because I’m working at an ad agency now and some of the copywriters have a tendency to place commas in their work where they just don’t need to be. A lot.

Don’t get me wrong – I have nothing whatsoever against the writers. They’re really nice people and they’re good at their jobs. My preference is to blame the clients, honestly (and I’m absolutely not going to name names). They keep pushing toward more and more “conversational” copy in their ads, and they don’t really seem to know what that means.

One of the rules they don’t seem to understand but love to break is comma usage. Specifically, they like to use commas to create a pause where there is no need for either a comma or a pause. For example, they like to start sentences with prepositions. I don’t mind this by itself – hell, I do it all the time. But they then want to place a comma after the preposition to create a false pause. “And, you can get blah blah for free when you sign up.”

I’ve thought long and hard about this (you’d think I had nothing better to do, but it’s couched more in fury than boredom, belive me) and the only use I can come up with for this usage is in scriptwriting. It’s a situation where you might actually need to cue the reader (I tend to think in terms of commercial scripting, being in an ad agency) to pause there for emphasis. But I can’t for the life of me come up with a reason why you would do it in a visual medium.

And I mark it for deletion every time I see it. 😉

Okay, rant over. Sorry for the tardiness, but it was a busy weekend. D&D game Saturday, Father’s Day Sunday. And yeah, I know. Blah blah excuses blah. 🙂

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