With a Rebel Yell, I Cried, “More Punctuation, Please!”

19 Jan

I haven’t done any sentence diagramming for a while, so I figured I’d take a page out of the Michelle Webb playbook and discuss some bad grammar I saw recently:

Let me direct your attention to the punctuation void, “Original Time Honored Recipe.”

To see the problem, let’s look at the line right above that deems this “Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey.”  What kind of whiskey is this?  (Besides my favorite?)  It is not just Kentucky whiskey, nor is it simply straight whiskey, nor is it merely bourbon whiskey.  It is, cumulatively, Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey.  All of those words imply some shade of meaning that all work together to jointly modify whiskey and tell us exactly what kind of whiskey it is; they have little meaning separately, and they cannot be separated with commas or ands or anything because they all work together.

The words in the next line, however, do not all work together to modify recipe.  It’s not as though there are a bunch of time-honored recipes lying around, and we have to tell you this is the original time-honored recipe as opposed to the sixteenth time-honored recipe.  So, the first problem is that–because the recipe is both original AND time honored–we need a comma after original to show that these adjectives coordinate instead of accumulate.

The next problem is that time and honored ARE working together to modify recipe.  It’s not a time recipe, nor is it an honored recipe; it’s a time-honored recipe.  So we gotta have a hyphen for that compound-adjective action.

In the whiskey world of my dreams, the bottle should now read:

Original, Time-Honored Recipe

In conclusion, I guess I shoulda stuck with Jim Beam.

2 Responses to “With a Rebel Yell, I Cried, “More Punctuation, Please!””

  1. 247southernvoice 19 January 2013 at 9:15 PM #

    Perhaps if you drank half the bottle, the punctuation errors wouldn’t bother you so much. 😉

  2. silverscreenings 20 January 2013 at 3:22 PM #

    Sing it, Sister! It makes me cringe to see punctuation errors on packaging…or anything else for that matter.

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