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comma btw adjective and noun: his delicate, even, hand

Discussion in 'English Only' started by brian, Mar 2, 2009.

  1. brian

    brian Senior Member

    Montréal
    AmE (New Orleans)
    Hi folks,

    In the preface to Farquharson's translation of Marcus Aurelius' Meditations--Oxford University Press--John Sparrow is talking about Farquharson's studies and mad-like existence while translating the Meditations, and in particular about the fact that few of his friends even knew he was working on the translation. He writes:
    Only the evidence of his library--the hundreds of volumes bearing in their margins 'copious notes' and forests of cross-references, written in his delicate, even, hand and dating, some of them, from hid undergraduate days--has revealed the range...
    My problem is the comma after "even." I hope I'm right in thinking that "delicate" and "even" modify "hand," which here means "handwriting." Right?

    Now, is this just a typo, or what? This is Oxford press, so British writing style. I know they have weird :))) comma rules, but this must be a mistake. Yes?

    Or am I reading the sentence wrong?

    Normally a typo wouldn't cause me such a fuss, but it's the second sentence of the entire book!
     
  2. Qaz_ Senior Member

    New Jersey, USA
    American English
    I think it would not have the comma there if there were only one word modifying hand but since both delicate and even modify hand there is the comma there. It does seem to violate the rule for commas though. And yes they are talking about his handwriting.
     
  3. brian

    brian Senior Member

    Montréal
    AmE (New Orleans)
    That explains the first comma (the one between delicate and hand, which I have no problem with), but why the second? It is akin to the red, juicy apple; I would not put a comma after juicy.

    Or maybe I'm misunderstanding what you mean.
     
  4. Qaz_ Senior Member

    New Jersey, USA
    American English
    I am basically agreeing with you. I think the second comma could be disposed of.
     
  5. brian

    brian Senior Member

    Montréal
    AmE (New Orleans)
    And not just "could," but "should"! I had to read the sentence 5 times before I understood it--and I still wasn't completely sure, which is why I opened this thread.

    One of my original ideas was that "even" was being used as an adverb, i.e. as if the idea were written in his hand, delicate even! or something weird. You know how those old British writers like to use lots of little filler words separated by commas. ;) That is, you know, indeed, how those, well, old British, so to speak, writers used to, at one time, use so many commas, in fact, that you could hardly, to put it lightly, finish a damn sentence. :) You get the idea.
     

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