The Tale of the Three Hateful Brothers: Syntax, Grammar and Punctuation

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There were once three brothers who were not on the best of terms. Syntax was the eldest and most popular. Everybody knew him, and even if they didn't quite understand him all the time (and most could not even recall his name), even so just about everyone had a good idea of how he operated and what he would do in any given situation. His younger brother was named Grammar, and almost everyone hated him. This bothered Grammar terribly, and he spent all his time trying to explain himself to people in the simplest terms. Hardly anyone save a few odd folks here and there were interested, though, and Grammar found himself increasingly alone as time passed. The youngest of the three, however, was Punctuation, and he was evil.

 Punctuation had been born because their parents, Need and Reason, had decided to move into a newer, more spacious neighbourhood and felt that Grammar and Syntax could use a younger brother. On the one hand, he could help them work together extracting Meaning from the Lore Pits where they worked. Punctuation was, after all, very good at refining Meaning by cutting raw sentences into shimmering facets: with long, iridescent clauses that dangled delicately from individual verbs while their sparkling phrases radiated outward in crystalline beauty. On the other hand, Punctuation made Grammar seem a little less strange to most of the people they met and even brought Syntax a little closer to his younger, stodgier sibling. After all, Punctuation seemed fairly simple with his few devices: a colon here, a comma there, and maybe a specialized apostrophe to liven things up on a dull Saturday afternoon.

 Punctuation knew well how to use his youth to encourage this semblance of simplicity, however, and this he used to mask his true nature. First, he insinuated himself between his two brothers. Grammar's loneliness gave Punctuation an excuse to become close to Grammar. Under the guise of a helpful companion, Punctuation began imitating his brother's behaviour until before much time had passed there were many who could not tell them apart. Syntax began to worry about Grammar, and the two would often argue, Syntax always insisting on the most direct means of getting to the Meaning and Grammar always insisting that the process was what mattered most. After all, rules must be followed. Punctuation would laugh quietly to himself. He would agree here with Syntax that their raw materials of Clarity and Understanding were the only things necessary to find Meaning. Then Punctuation would turn around and vehemently agree with Grammar that the brothers would never find any Meaning whatsoever if the rules of procedure fell by the wayside.

 Before long, Grammar and Syntax discovered that they could not work together at all without Punctuation mediating between them. Syntax spent much of his time ignoring Grammar altogether and only bothered with him when there was serious work to be done, while Grammar grew ever more dogmatic and set in his ways. Punctuation had made himself the master of the Lore Pits.

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This page contains a single entry by Legible Larry published on April 10, 2013 10:30 PM.

Nine Easy Steps to Creating the Perfect Essay: Part 1 was the previous entry in this blog.

Behind the Grading Curtain: What Your Grade Actually Means is the next entry in this blog.

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