You are here

Life hangs on a comma

Monday, July 7, 2014
Snigger if you like, but punctuation can be a matter of life and death.

Punctuation nerds all over the United States of America celebrated the Fourth of July last week by poring over bad copies of the Declaration of Independence, looking for a full stop or period which could change life as they know it.


A Princeton university professor Danielle Allen has enough scholars taking her seriously to cause a grammar crisis. She says America has been reading the Declaration wrong and there was originally a period in the passage beginning, “We hold these truths to be self-evident’’ and so on. If she is correct, it means the “pursuit of happiness’’ deal is not more important than the role of the government.


Thomas Jefferson may not have intended that the rights of the individual would dominate, which is news that could crimp the style of a lot of folks.


Snigger if you like, but punctuation can be a matter of life and death.


User comments posted on this website are the sole views and opinions of the comment writer and are not representative of Guardian Media Limited or its staff.

Guardian Media Limited accepts no liability and will not be held accountable for user comments.

Guardian Media Limited reserves the right to remove, to edit or to censor any comments.

Any content which is considered unsuitable, unlawful or offensive, includes personal details, advertises or promotes products, services or websites or repeats previous comments will be removed.

Before posting, please refer to the Community Standards, Terms and conditions and Privacy Policy

User profiles registered through fake social media accounts may be deleted without notice.