comma with vocative

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comma with vocative

Post by spud » Thu May 17, 2007 7:18 pm

This is my first contribution. The members seem to be a friendly bunch, so here goes.

Aged seventy-something, and always ready to move with the times, I am puzzled over the way I feel about using a comma with the vocative. This crops up most often when I am starting an informal email. Many years ago, I'd have put 'Hi, John', or 'Thanks for this, John.' (Had it been very many years, of course, I would not have written 'Hi' at all.) Now, against all principles and logic, I feel that the comma is no longer acceptable usage. I should be grateful for others' views on this.
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comma with vocative

Post by Meirav Micklem » Thu May 17, 2007 10:36 pm

Interesting! Hadn't noticed that I've been doing this but now that you ask, yes, I realise that I don't put a comma between the Hi and the John, and a quick scan through my inbox reveals that this is the norm - or at least among those I correspond with. The only ones who don't start their email to me with "Hi Meirav" are those who start it more formally with "Dear Meirav", but those are few and far between.

Glad you think we're a friendly bunch here - we do have our moments though :-)
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comma with vocative

Post by russcable » Thu May 17, 2007 11:06 pm

So in your informal emails (which, of course, defy all conventions of punction and capitalization), you're writing:

thanks for this john

Evidentally, the person you're writing to recently gave you a new fixture for your loo or referred a new client for your job as a sex worker.

(^_^)
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comma with vocative

Post by Meirav Micklem » Thu May 17, 2007 11:13 pm

No, if I was thanking John I would say "thanks, John". In my posting I was referring only to the "Hi John" part.

Of course if I was buying a loo part from someone I would use the much more formal "Dear John". ;-)
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comma with vocative

Post by trolley » Thu May 17, 2007 11:17 pm

I'm feeling a little flushed.
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comma with vocative

Post by Erik_Kowal » Fri May 18, 2007 3:20 am

Well, your name is John. ;-)
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comma with vocative

Post by Ken Greenwald » Fri May 18, 2007 4:17 am

John, I wonder if Louis feels the same. (???)
_________________

Ken - May 17, 2007
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comma with vocative

Post by gdwdwrkr » Fri May 18, 2007 10:13 am

Welcome, spud. You have plunged right in and stirred up more toilet-humor.
The WW learning-curve leads to extrapolative pre-meditation.
.....................................................................
(It's tomorrow, Ken)
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comma with vocative

Post by hsargent » Fri May 18, 2007 12:54 pm

The comma has gone the way of capitalzation and spelling. I receive emails with all caps and feel like they are yelling, or all small letters and it is almost a riddle between words and names.

This is just lazy.

As an Barbershop singer, I appreciate a comma so I know to breath!
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comma with vocative

Post by gdwdwrkr » Fri May 18, 2007 1:53 pm

Hear, hear!
Ever hear Spike Jones yell to the singer holding the note for the very long time, "Turn the page, ya fathead!!"?
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comma with vocative

Post by Shelley » Fri May 18, 2007 3:14 pm

Truly. The absence of punctuation these days is getting absurd. With all the (internet) opportunities for people to make their writing public, it's really easy to see the effect of the lack of education in this area. You see these solid blocks of text: run-on sentences with no periods or commas, authored by "i".

In the USA, a 25-minute, essay-writing section has been added to the SAT exam (entrance exam required in the college admissions process). Its purpose, one might imagine, is to measure the average high-school Junior's ability to compose a simple sentence. It was added about two years ago, so colleges are still trying to figure out how to evaluate this section.

I do use a comma after "hi" (as in Hi, Ms. Truss), but I'm not rigid about it -- it doesn't bother me if the comma's missing in this case. It does bother me when the lack of a comma (or any punctuation) causes me to misunderstand the meaning of a sentence and therefore have to go back and read it again.

By the way, it's more than simple laziness, in my opinion. I think the law of "whatever the market will allow" is working here, along with the law of entropy. As people accept "bad" language, punctuation, spelling, etc., those things become the norm, and things tend to fall apart. And yes, it's definitely work to use the extra brain power and time to apply the rules of grammer and punctuation. Those that do, however, will get favorable attention (at the high-school level, anyway).
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comma with vocative

Post by russcable » Fri May 18, 2007 3:34 pm

An example someone else copied from somewhere else to someplace else:
Dear Jack,
I want a man who knows what love is all about.
You are generous, kind, thoughtful. People who
are not like you admit to being useless and inferior.
You have ruined me for other men. I yearn for you.
I have no feelings whatsoever when we’re apart.
I can be forever happy – will you let me be yours?
Jill
Dear Jack
I want a man who knows what love is.
All about you are generous, kind, thoughtful
people, who are not like you. Admit to being
useless and inferior. You have ruined me.
For other men I yearn! For you I have no feelings
whatsoever. When we’re apart I can be forever
happy. Will you let me be?
Yours,
Jill
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comma with vocative

Post by Shelley » Fri May 18, 2007 3:55 pm

Hah! I've never seen this, russcable! Just shows to go ya' . . .
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comma with vocative

Post by Edwin Ashworth » Fri May 18, 2007 10:20 pm

Dolly will always demand a comma on being greeted. Starshine, never. Young lovers, sometimes.
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comma with vocative

Post by tony h » Mon May 21, 2007 9:47 am

I think that people tend to leave out the comma because they don't have the confidence to include one. To miss one out is an understandable error of laziness or oversight. To include one where there should not be one is to expose all your failings of grammatical competence and to diminish your position in society. The omission can be dismissed by the scribe but leaves a problem with the understanding by the reader.

I go for the comma (usually).
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