16 Stories

$5M Lawsuit Over an Oxford Comma Is Settled

Maine dairy drivers' suit stemmed over unclear verbiage on overtime

(Newser) - Maine dairy drivers who p icked a court fight over grammar have an extra $5 million to show for their geekery, reports the AP . Oakhurst Dairy drivers settled their 2014 lawsuit last week for a relatively big pay day—they had originally sought $10 million—after a federal appeals... More »

Dairy Drivers in Maine Are Celebrating a Missing Comma

Court rules in their favor in labor dispute that came down to lack of punctuation

(Newser) - For instilling in us a love of language, we offer a shout-out to our English teachers, William Safire and Mary Norris . In that sentence, we're trying to thank our teachers plus those two grammar gurus. If you didn't read it that way, witness the importance of the Oxford... More »

Bad Punctuation May Have Hindered Murder Case

Newly discovered error reopens line of inquiry in 1993 British killing

(Newser) - A newly discovered punctuation error regarding a piece of evidence may help British police zero in on accomplices in a notorious murder now 23 years old. The case is that of Stephen Lawrence, a black teenager beaten to death in 1993 as he stood at a bus stop. Two white... More »

The Secret to Sincere Texts? Lose the Period

Proper punctuation is a turnoff

(Newser) - Don’t end your texts with a period. Period. After all, that’s what jerks do, New York magazine opines, with a new study out of SUNY Binghamton lending scientific credence. Researchers showed 126 undergraduates a bunch of texts featuring an invitation and a reply. Participants rated replies that were... More »

Missing Comma Saves Woman From Ticket

Improper punctuation keeps Ohio village from collecting on parking citation

(Newser) - An appeals court has agreed with an Ohio woman who said her parking citation should be tossed because the village law was missing a comma. Andrea Cammelleri says she shouldn't have been issued a citation in 2014 based on the wording of the law enacted by the village of... More »

149-Page Dissertation Has No Punctuation

That was on purpose, and it was successfully defended

(Newser) - Architect Patrick Stewart's doctoral dissertation has 149 pages, 52,438 words, and, except for a few question marks, no punctuation. As Canada's National Post reports, it also isn't much concerned with things like capitalization, paragraphs, or formatting of any kind, really. But maybe the most remarkable thing... More »

Jimmy's or Jimmys? Feds Wage War on Apostrophes

Punctuation in place names spawns fight

(Newser) - Residents of New York's Adirondack Mountains have a bone to pick with the federal government. At issue: punctuation. A nearby mountain known to many as Jimmy's or James' Peak, but US officials won't stand for the apostrophe in the name, leading a local supervisor to grumble, "... More »

Obama. Slogan. Infuriating. Grammar. Dorks.

Is that period effective—or even correct?

(Newser) - President Obama's re-election campaign slogan isn't just "Forward"—it's "Forward." And that little period is causing quite a bit of controversy, the Wall Street Journal reports. First of all, there's the question of whether the period takes away from the slogan's... More »

Stop With Those Awful Exclamation Points

Steve Macone says they replace real friendliness

(Newser) - Who could hate a friendly little punctuation mark? Steve Macone could, and does, even though he's addicted to using it. "I've come to hate" exclamation points in texts and emails, he writes at Salon . "'See you at 1:00 for the meeting,' I type,... More »

Comma Drama Ends: Oxford Rule Stands

Grammar nerds rallied to defense of serial comma

(Newser) - Grammar fiends took a ride on an emotional roller coaster this week on news, erroneous as it turned out, that Oxford University was ditching its famous comma rule. (It requires a comma before the word "and" in a series: Not "a, b and c" but "a, b,... More »

Dear Writers: 'Leave the Damn Em Dash Alone'

It's overused and inefficient: Noreen Malone

(Newser) - Might one overused punctuation threaten the integrity of modern prose? Noreen Malone thinks so, and she points to the em dash as culprit. But wait, "doesn't a dash—if done right—let the writer maintain an elegant, sinewy flow to her sentences?" she asks in her anti-em-dash essay... More »

Punctuation Fans Pour Their He@rts Out

!, @, ?, and others mark the spot of blog readers' affections

(Newser) - Curious? Excited!? Thrilled to see @ move from obscurity to virtual omnipresence? Tell your favorite punctuation mark how you feel. "We’re combining two of our top-ten passions in life and challenging you to write a letter to your favorite punctuation mark," write the editors of the... More »

'Fake AP Stylebook' Well Worth a Peek

It pokes fun at language rulebooks and grammar dictators

(Newser) - It's not the likeliest of Internet sensations, but the Fake AP Stylebook on Twitter is well worth the buzz it's getting, writes Mark Peters. Anyone who's been tormented by such rulebooks on language, or by sanctimonious grammarians, will rejoice. And laugh. Typical rule: "When referring to someone with a... More »

RIP, Mix Tapes, Porn Age Limits, Typewriters, and More

(Newser) - Word processors, dot-matrix printers, rotary phones, and other formerly state-of-the-art technologies are just about gone and nearly forgotten. Carrying the torch for the likes of holding up a cigarette lighter at a concert is JR Raphael of PC World, who lists 40 leading lights of abandoned technology:
  • Looking up numbers
... More »


Lionel Shriver laments the loss of the semicolon to its curt cousin

(Newser) - A punctuation plague is raging through contemporary prose, indulged in by ordinarily excellent writers and hacks alike. It’s the “em dash,” writes Lionel Shriver for Standpoint—that punchy, aggressive punctuation mark beloved for its flexibility. It can replace the geriatric semicolon, linking two elements of a single... More »

Hyphen Takes a Knockout Blow

Or should that still be knock-out? Dictionary drops 16,000 of them

(Newser) - The new edition of the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary has far fewer of everyone's favorite little connector. Editors have dropped 16,000 hyphens from all sorts of compound words: "Fig-leaf" is now "fig leaf," "chick-pea" has become "chickpea."  Email is the culprit, reports... More »

16 Stories