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Yep. That comma could co$t!

Yep. That comma could co$t!

Yep. That comma could co$t!

(OP)
If you have three items, how would you punctuate a sentence containing them? For example, would you write, "I had muffins, cereal and tea this morning," or would you write, ""I had muffins, cereal, and tea this morning?" Pick the wrong one and it could cost you millions. Maine company may have to pay millions thanks to a misplaced comma in a law.

James P. Cottingham
I'm number 1,229!
I'm number 1,229!

RE: Yep. That comma could co$t!

All because Americans do not speak or write English. :)


I was taught that it is correct grammar to not place a comma following a word in a list that is immediately before "and" or "or"

So this sentence;

The canning, processing, preserving, freezing, drying, marketing, storing, packing for shipment or distribution of:

includes "distribution of" in the list of exclusionary items, the comma after 'shipment' is implied by the presence of "or" preceding the final item in the list, as signified by the closing colon instead of a full stop.

Chris.

Indifference will be the downfall of mankind, but who cares?
Time flies like an arrow, however, fruit flies like a banana.

Never mind this jesus character, stars had to die for me to live.

RE: Yep. That comma could co$t!

Not using the oxford comma however can definitely portray a different meaning than intended

Humor - Oxford Comma

**********************************************
What's most important is that you realise ... There is no spoon.

RE: Yep. That comma could co$t!

I always put such things in extra sentences. I know the oxford comma, wasn't always using it, but do so now. The german rule differs in being the opposite of that, but I won't go into the discussion what's best or worst. You can always express yourself with the necessary precision, if you feel there is room four doubt or misinterpretation.

There is another thing I came across yesterday. Someone is right in seeing a fade of correct use of hyphens in german, just because brands and product names should work internationally. The german language is infamous for compound words you can build with as many words as you like, as long as their meaning becomes clear. You can easily understand a Weinglas is a wine glass and would also not interpret a wineglass as a glass made out of wine. You almost have the same thing, you just add in spaces. But we also often put in hyphens to make a distinction and stress the main words, for example there is a strong distinction between a disabled-WC and a disabled WC, to give one example.

Bye, Olaf.

RE: Yep. That comma could co$t!

I am in agreement with chris

The comma is simply used as a replacement for the word and ( and or if appropriate)

so the example sentece without commas would be come I has Muffins and tea and cerial this morning, using multile conjunctions is not considerd to be good usage.

the offending sentence in the case therfore should have bean read as equivelent to

The canning or processing or preserving or freezing or drying or marketing or storing or packing for shipment or distribution of:

This still leaves the abiguity, is the last term "Packing for shipment or distribution" or Distribution with the penultimate term being "Packing for shipment"

To my mind the ddrivers have got lucky because surely Shipment & Distribution are the same thing so why would Distribution needed to have been specified in the 1st instance?

Again the law makers should have seen this possible ambiguity & re wrote the whole sentence.



Do things on the cheap & it will cost you dear

RE: Yep. That comma could co$t!

>surely Shipment & Distribution are the same thing

Not quite. Whilst distribution may involve shipment, shipment does not necessarily involve distribution.

RE: Yep. That comma could co$t!

I'll never forget the Chinese legal team that posted this product warning, "Not to be used for the other purpose". Wow, that little statement covers everything that is not stated in the Purpose or Use statement. I guess the Chinese translate English better than most American lawyers.

==================================
advanced cognitive capabilities and other marketing buzzwords explained with sarcastic simplicity


RE: Yep. That comma could co$t!

"Not to be used for the other purpose"

That always makes me wonder what "the other purpose" might be and; Who decides?

The real 'cover all bases' disclaimer would be 'Not to be used for any other purpose', but "The other purpose" sounds a little specific.

Chris.

Indifference will be the downfall of mankind, but who cares?
Time flies like an arrow, however, fruit flies like a banana.

Never mind this jesus character, stars had to die for me to live.

RE: Yep. That comma could co$t!

If people had common sense. Half (or more) of the wording would go away. i.e., if you plug it into a wall, it probably would be a good idea to keep it away from water (there are exception), if it is plastic, it probably would be a good idea to keep it away from heat and fire.

RE: Yep. That comma could co$t!

@kray4660. Legal documents, or as in this case laws, should not leave room for interpretation. Common sense is not assumed or required. I am reminded of a SF short story I once read where a machine was invented that would take plain English and convert it into legalese. A few sentences would be converted into pages and pages of legal terminology stating the same thing. Lawyers loved it and the inventors were making a mint on sales. One day the inventors received a legal document regarding selling the rights to their product. They tweaked their machine to work the other direction and it spat out 1 plain as day message - Sell out or die horribly. Suffice it to say, I've been sceptical about legalese ever since. Considering I read that story while I was still in school back in the '70s, you might say it made quite the impression.

**********************************************
What's most important is that you realise ... There is no spoon.

RE: Yep. That comma could co$t!

"A few sentences would be converted into pages and pages of legal terminology stating the same thing" - that also translates into a lot of 'billable' hours. And we know it ain't cheap...

Have fun.

---- Andy

There is a great need for a sarcasm font.

RE: Yep. That comma could co$t!

Unfortunately that is true. You need the labels to protect the consumer and the seller. Thus never try to use a toaster in the shower!!

RE: Yep. That comma could co$t!

Quote:

If people had common sense.

Never going to happen.

Quote:

Thus never try to use a toaster in the shower!!

OR charge your iPhone in the bath.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-39307418

Chris.

Indifference will be the downfall of mankind, but who cares?
Time flies like an arrow, however, fruit flies like a banana.

Never mind this jesus character, stars had to die for me to live.

RE: Yep. That comma could co$t!

The Oxford Style Guide uses the serial comma convention, while the Chicago Manual of Style, the AP Stylebook and The UPI Stylebook do not. However, in those that do not, there is a specific exception to clarify ambiguities.

This is entirely clear, which is no doubt what ought to have been written:

Quote:

The canning, processing, preserving, freezing, drying, marketing, storing, packing for shipment, or distribution of:

This is also entirely clear:

Quote:

The canning, processing, preserving, freezing, drying, marketing, storing, packing or distribution of:

But it has a slightly different meaning, if there exists the activity of packing for reasons other than shipment.

Of course, with the comma missing from the original language, one can argue that "packing for shipment or distribution" is an activity that doesn't include the actual distribution, which no doubt is the basis for the case. However, I think in the end the meaning that is clear when the comma is included will prevail. "Packing for shipment or distribution" suggests that there are two separate packing activities, one for shipment and one for distribution. It seems most unlikely to me that the plaintiffs will be able to prove that these two activities both exist separately in their business, so that meaning wouldn't have any reference in fact. Therefore the meaning that would be clear if the comma were included will probably be found to be the correct one.

If I ever find myself drafting legislation, I shall keep the Oxford comma scrupulously after seeing this.

An unforeseen consequence of the information revolution has been the exponential propagation of human error.

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