Ben Yagoda, professor of English at the University of Delaware, explores the comma and how its use changed over time. Click on the link below for the full piece.
Eight years ago, Lynne Truss’s best-selling “Eats, Shoots & Leaves” took, in the words of her subtitle, a “Zero Tolerance Approach” to the subject. Although Truss’s focus on errors drew the ire, if not the fire, of grammarians, linguists and other “descriptivists,” her book was, for the most part, harmless and legitimate. Still, it overlooked a lot. Maybe more than any other element of writing, punctuation combines rules with issues of sound, preference and personal style. And as Truss didn’t adequately acknowledge, even the rules change over time.