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, the secrets of the semi-colon, and the elements for style in any era. They remain geniuses of their time and ours.
Who, or 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 a smartypants 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