Paul L. Caron

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

True Confessions Of A Legal Writing Professor: I Will Never Surrender To The Sinful Comma Splice

Diana Simon (Arizona; Google Scholar), More True Confessions of a Legal Writing Professor: I Will Never Surrender to the Sinful Comma Splice, __ Ariz. Att'y __ (2021):

This, at times, irreverent and tongue-in-cheek article analyzes the increase in the use of comma splices from a legal writing professor’s perspective and suggests ways to fix the problem. First, it traces the increase of comma splices to the Harry Potter series because, as English professors have suggested, that best-selling series is full of comma splices. Second, it explains exactly what a comma splice is and how historically, the use of comma splices was acceptable. Third, it provides examples of sentences with comma splices and suggests different methods of fixing the sentence to correct the problem. Finally, it addresses exceptions to the ban on comma splices.

Maybe none of you can relate, but I am a worrier. I worry about climate change, getting Covid-19, partisan politics that may never end, my child’s happiness, and my dog’s wellbeing. When I stop worrying about those minor issues, I then move on to the more critical ones, such as the use of comma splices. Specifically, I worry about whether the time will come when comma splice usage will be the norm. Will there be a proliferation of comma splices in formal legal writing? And worse, what if no one notices or cares? Will I be the only one left standing that sees a comma splice and hears nails on a chalkboard (and no one will know what a chalkboard is either, also signaling the end of the world as we know it). To keep the comma splice from becoming an acceptable part of legal writing, I will explain what it is, posit a theory about why there are around more than ever, explain ways to correct the problem, and discuss exceptions to the “no comma splice” rule.

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