Editing for a living is great for many reasons, one of which is that there is such rich comedic material seemingly everywhere we look because we can’t turn off our editorial propensities. Take this rest-area notice, for example, discovered along our recent travels:
Okay, so this tragically punctuated sign is funny, but many might ask, “So what? Most people understand the idea, right? What’s the big deal?”
Fair enough, theoretically; not everyone cringes (or, in our case, laughs heartily) at poor punctuation, and not everyone even notices it.
But is $5 million a big deal?
In this February 9, 2018, Boston Globe article, the importance of proper punctuation was underscored. Oakhurst Dairy recently paid out $5 million to drivers following an overtime pay dispute based, in essence, on the lack of the serial comma (also called the Oxford comma) in Maine state law.
That, friends, is a lot of milk and butter.
If your curiosity is piqued, check out the article for the nitty-gritty. Suffice it to say that the three truck drivers who homed in on the lack of a serial comma in that particular section of Maine state law and subsequently won $5 million for their four years’ worth of denied overtime pay should make every English teacher—and every editor—proud.
For more Quill & Ink fun with examples of punctuational disasters, check out our article “Happy National Punctuation Day!” from September 2017 and our September 2016 article, “Huh?”
Grammar and punctuation . . . they matter! Ignore at your peril!