Commas ( ,)
I hate them.
Perhaps hate may be too strong an adjective but commas and their correct use have become my biggest bugbear.
I put it down to the fact that I speak very quickly. Not always, certainly never in a formal or professional capacity. In an informal setting, those who have heard me speak will confirm that every word I utter merges with the next. No full stop to separate my over running sentences. Speaking at the speed of light, as it is called by some members of my family, does have some advantage; there is no better way to repel a person than to waffle endlessy about useless facts at a pace so fast that all they can hear are abunchofjumbledupwords. They immediately walk away baffled and afraid to ever speak to me again.
Yet like most things in life, this trait does have its disadvantages. The speed of my speech is ultimately governed by the speed at which the thoughts in my brain travel. The same is true of anything I read, especially when reading silently, I barely notice punctuation marks. Thus when I sit to write a blog post I often do so with very little punctuation. Upon completion of the post I read it aloud and attempt to insert the relevant full stops commas and whatever else is missing.
This method while useful is flawed. Firstly it can only be used when I am blogging from home, or any other location that enables me to engage in what is essentially talking to myself. Secondly, try as I may, I can only read the post aloud at two speeds. One speed being my normal speaking speed, which defeats the object since my speech pattern cares little for the apparently natural breaks in conversation. The other speed is my attempt at mimicking what 99% of my friends and family would consider normal. The end result, to my ears at least, is something that sounds rather ghastly and takes me back to the days when the Walkman was the ‘in’ musical accessory. At this supposedly normal pace I sound exactly how a tape played through a Walkman would sound right before the battery died. E v e r y s i n g l e l e t t e r i s d r a g g e d o n a n d o n a n o n until it becomes impossible for me to work out where the punctuation marks should be placed.
So conscious am I of my grammatical shortcomings that I either use very short sentences or I rely on a tactic which while being grammatically incorrect does make me feel slightly better; once I have completed my post I simply insert a comma at random intervals making sure it is at least three words away from the nearest full stop.
What vexes me the most about this whole situation is that we who suffer from commaphobia are not taken as seriously as other grammatically challenged groups. Take for example those who are yet to learn how and where to place an apostrophe. They can rely on The Apostrophe Protection Society to set them straight and instead of being ridiculed for the inability to correctly use an apostrophe, their misuse is rewarded by giving it the cuddly and friendly sounding title ‘Greengrocers’ apostrophes.’
There is no justice in this world!