English writers from earlier centuries peppered their work with commas as if they shook them out from a pepper shaker. They didn’t believe in reasonable length sentences and extended them by whatever means necessary. It’s symbolic of their time. A mark of higher learning from elite schools that divulged the lavish use of the comma, secrets of the semi-colon, and the elements for style in any era. They remain geniuses of their time and ours.
So, what’s changed since then–readers, writers, publishers, or the passage of time? I shy away from an extra clause, let alone risk it all by living on the edge with a wayward semicolon. Even the Oxford comma is now worthy of a scholarly debate and often settled with smarty-pants verbal fisticuffs. William Faulkner, an American from Oxford, Mississippi, didn’t mind long sentences either. However, this isn’t symbolic of our time–a troubling one at that. Short, clear, and crisp sentences are the new fashion. Continue reading