Tuesday, December 25, 2012

pop quiz redux

Saw this annoying tweet from Simon Pegg (Scotty from "Star Trek" and Shaun from "Shaun of the Dead"), in which Pegg quotes a work of science fiction:

Nobody understood the doughy, plasticity of space/time like the Baker, felt its fluxing complexity. Reality to him, was so much puff pastry.

I have no idea whether the pair of comma errors in the above quote are Pegg's (who wrote the tweet) or the SF author's (whom Pegg was quoting). Can you locate and correct the gaffes? (I'd also argue that "space/time" should be written as "space-time." The space-time continuum is a continuum of space and time, not of space or time. In fact, a slash runs counter to the very notion of a continuum.)



Charles said...

Ah, the old "comma between subject and predicate" error that native speakers make all the time (but which my students never make).

In the second instance, I think the confusion steams from the fact that we would write: "To him, reality was so much puff pastry." So people have this idea that we must have a comma after "him" and don't even think about its purpose. I have no idea what happened in the first instance, though.

A thought: not reading Twitter probably does wonders for my blood pressure.

Merry Christmas!

Kevin Kim said...

Yeah, I'd have removed the comma after "doughy" and inserted a comma after "Reality" to form a parenthetical (I don't think it qualifies as an appositive), which is about the only time you can use a comma (well, two commas) between a subject and a predicate.

"Fate, it seems, is not without a sense of irony." --Morpheus, The Matrix

Kevin Kim said...

And a Merry Christmas to you, too!

Charles said...

Heh. My original comment mentioned adding a comma after "Reality"--that was my first instinct as well--but then I took that part out to keep the comment short and sweet.