Punctuating the Highlands

I am a big fan of punctuation – though I probably over use the ellipsis and hyphen (this latter, perhaps, a symptom of the dreaded writers’ affliction “must dash”) – to the extent that I use it even when texting.

Some groups of people seem wilfully to avoid punctuation, and I talk not of greengrocers or texting “yoof” in this case, but of lawyers.  When drafting, our legal profession seems to avoid use of the comma to an excessive degree – and I had always believed that this was to leave creative uncertainty in laws and contracts which would then provide an income for future lawyers. However, it was only today that I realised there might be another cause…

The BBC News website reports that the comma is making a comeback to Scotland. It would seem that we have climate change to thank for the fact that clauses, adverbs and adjectives (among many other things) will now be clearly separated within a sentence – even north of the border (well, as far as Aberdeen; Thurso is still awaiting a reduction in text-based ambiguity).  Does this perhaps suggest that if we turned up the heating (or used a draft-excluder?), we could produce clearly written, unambiguous legal documents leading to a huge boost to our flagging economy?


2 thoughts on “Punctuating the Highlands

  1. matathew says:

    Life has been much the poorer for the recent, fortunately brief, absence of posts in this blog. As a result, as a reader thereof, I’m clearly out of practice, and struggling with this one. I think it’s probably to do with a species of butterfly, and its close links to punctuation symbols. But my theory is unsupported by my searches of the BBC News website, which draws a blank on all such fronts. My conclusion is that, now that Cambridge is Cambridge Regis, it has extra “news stories” written personally by Prince Charles, or possibly that we in the South East are, Chinese government style, no longer allowed to access websites dealing with subject matter north of Watford.

  2. Stuart Ffoulkes says:

    You are quite correct about the link to the lepidoptera (clearly, you have been sufficiently inculcated with the ethos of this blog) – try http://news.bbc.co.uk/earth/hi/earth_news/newsid_9470000/9470125.stm
    for some hot comma action.

    In a call back to an earlier post, a quick web search revealed that the news story in question is far from new – I can find the story dates back at least as far as 1999 (though I think the extension to Aberdeen may belong to the current millenium).

    I’m not sure that my recent acquisition of a Duke (and associated Duchess) has necessarily improved my news gathering potential (though I am tucking into a cup of of his dad’s camomile tea). So, perhaps your theory is right – or the country is about to be bifurcated and I will be left in the less economically viable northern portion (you heard it here first!).

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