A question of punctuation.

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A question of punctuation.

Post by tony h » Thu May 04, 2017 12:11 pm

In our local council elections we re provided with a list of candidates. In the table of information the last column is used to indicate a candidate has withdrawn. This is conveyed by the sentence:

The persons above, where no entry is made in the last column, have been and stand validly nominated.

Now it took me several times of reading it to allow my brain to make sense of the sentence as I found it badly constructed to convey the information. I will admit that I sort of knew what it was saying first time.

On the basis that the purpose of the document is to identify currently-valid-candidates my mind creates the following problems:
1.
To me the subject (Hark at me being technical) is: The persons above where no entry is made in the last column but by putting where no entry is made in the last column in commas it separates out this vital piece of information from the subject and leaves it in a sort of no man's land.
2.
have been and stand validly nominated I might, being a pedant, have written this as have been validly nominated and stand validly nominated. Again the have been and seems rather left on its own and seems to suggest that the person has simply existed or possibly they have been to the toilet. The have been seems to fail to connect to the validly nominated.

So is this just me? Or is it really not quite good enough for a formal document?

I might go for:
The persons above where no entry is made in the last column have been, and stand, validly nominated.
or
Where no entry is made in the last column the persons above have been and stand validly nominated.
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With the right context almost anything can sound appropriate.

Re: A question of punctuation.

Post by Bobinwales » Fri May 05, 2017 7:35 pm

There are times that the Oxford comma make a difference.
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Bob in Wales

Re: A question of punctuation.

Post by Phil White » Tue May 09, 2017 11:10 pm

My sense is that the commas are necessary, both the originals and your additional ones around "and stand". Thus:

The persons above, where no entry is made in the last column, have been, and stand, validly nominated.

Otherwise, I would probably prefer "insofar as" to "where". I would probably also invert the subject and the "insofar as" clause, thus:

Insofar as no entry is made in the last column, the persons above have been, and stand, validly nominated.

Infinitely preferable, however, is to use a real relative clause. In this case, it would be a defining relative clause, and the commas must be omitted:

The persons above for whom no entry is made in the last column have been, and stand, validly nominated.
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Non sum felix lepus

Re: A question of punctuation.

Post by tony h » Wed May 10, 2017 1:13 pm

Thank you.

So is the original good enough for a formal document?

This is the original: The persons above, where no entry is made in the last column, have been and stand validly nominated.
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With the right context almost anything can sound appropriate.

Re: A question of punctuation.

Post by Phil White » Wed May 10, 2017 1:30 pm

It is ambiguous. If you put the clause "where no entry..." at the front of the sentence as you suggest, it would be fine. The current wording and punctuation suggest that no entries have been made for any of the persons above. Your suggested removal of commas was an attempt to remove this ambiguity by analogy with the use or otherwise of commas around relative clauses, but this doesn't really apply to "where" clauses in quite the same way.
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Non sum felix lepus

End of topic.
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