Monday, July 23, 2012
The Importance of Good Writing
I never understood how to read the Second Amendment because, grammatically, it makes little sense, because of an extra comma: "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." And apparently I am not the only one to be confused. Some states, for example, ratified a version of the Second Amendment that had only two commas in it. In my opinion the Second Amendment makes much more sense if you read it this way, with only one comma: "A well regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed." Whatever your opinion on the use of commas in English (they are overused, as every non-mother-tongue English writer will tell you), I highly recommend that you read this article by Adam Freedman. And if you are still not convinced about the importance of placing commas in the right spot, consider this famous Latin sentence, which an ancient oracle used as a response for soldiers who wanted to know what their fate would be in war: "ibis redibis non morieris in bello" Now play with commas: 1) "ibis, redibis, non morieris in bello" (You will go, you will return, you will not die in war.) 2) "ibis, redibis non, morieris in bello" (You will go, you will not return, you will die in war. I always wondered if the Founding Fathers were playing tricks on us.