comma with apposition (name): R&B group "The Stylistics" were

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8769

Senior Member
Japanese and Japan
The passage below is part of what I transcribed, listening to a radio program. The blank below is where I got stuck.

Which, #1 or #2 below, do you think is appropriate, when written down, for the blank?

1. R & B male group “The Stylistics”
2. R & B male group, “The Stylistics”
( ) were formed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1966 as a result of two groups, “The Percussions” and “The Monarchs, merging together.
I chose #1, but I’m not sure if it is correct.
 
  • 8769

    Senior Member
    Japanese and Japan
    First, there is no article before "R & B male group." I listened several times, but there was no "a" or "the" there.

    Second, I often see expressions similar to #1, like:
    "Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton"
    (from this morning's newspaper)

    I'm afraid this "comma-less" expression might be journalese, though.
     

    Dimcl

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    First, there is no article before "R & B male group." I listened several times, but there was no "a" or "the" there.
    Whether there's an article there or not has no bearing on whether there should be a comma
    Second, I often see expressions similar to #1, like:
    "Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton" (from this morning's newspaper). I'm afraid this "comma-less" expression might be journalese, though.
    I think that this sentence is abysmal without a comma!:eek:

    Thanks for that, 8769. Go ahead and put the comma in (for the same reason as you put it in "...a result of two groups, “The Percussions...”).
     

    Alan Oldstudent

    Member
    United States, English (Standard American)
    The passage below is part of what I transcribed, listening to a radio program. The blank below is where I got stuck.

    Which, #1 or #2 below, do you think is appropriate, when written down, for the blank?

    1. R & B male group “The Stylistics”
    2. R & B male group, “The Stylistics”
    ( ) were formed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1966 as a result of two groups, “The Percussions” and “The Monarchs, merging together.
    I chose #1, but I’m not sure if it is correct.
    In Standard American English, it would be correct to say:
    The R & B male group “The Stylistics” was formed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1966 as a result of two groups, “The Percussions” and “The Monarchs" merging together.
    First of all, the subject of the sentence is "the R & male group," which in Standard American English is singular. Therefore, the verb should be "was formed" and not "were formed." However, I believe in British English, such a collective noun is plural and requires the plural "were formed."

    The phrase "The Stylistics" is a restrictive modifier that describes which R & B male group we are talking about. We do not set off restrictive modifiers with commas. We do set of nonrestrictive modifiers with commas. You can read about restrictive and nonrestrictive modifiers and commas by clicking here or by clicking here and following the links.

    Consider the following sentences:
    My wife, Margaret, is a beautiful woman.
    My wife Margaret is a beautiful woman.​
    These two sentences do not mean the same thing.

    The first sentence just states that my wife is a beautiful woman, and the modifier "Margaret" simply states that is what my wife's name is. Thus it is a nonrestrictive modifier and must be set off by commas.

    In the second sentence, the word "Margaret" specifies which one of my wives I am referring to. It implies I have more than one wife. That makes "Margaret" a restrictive modifier, and so it should not be set off by commas. Moreover, if I were to write that sentence down in a letter to a male friend and my Margaret saw it, she might refuse to get my supper or kiss me goodnight, as she does not believe in polygamy and is unwilling to share. But then, she happens to be a retired English teacher.

    Also note that in Standard American English, the comma, if used, comes before the close-quotes punctuation mark and in British English, it follows the close-quotes punctuation mark. The same is true of the period used with quotation marks in Standard American English, although the rules for question marks and exclamation points are a bit more complicated.

    Regards,

    Alan
     

    Arrius

    Senior Member
    English, UK
    No one has yet mentioned the term in apposition. Generally speaking, when you have a noun followed by another noun or a noun phrase in apposition, (that means the same as the first noun), you surround it with commas: Stanislas, my eldest son, was at that moment cleaning out the pigsty.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    In Standard American English, it would be correct to say:
    The R & B male group “The Stylistics” was formed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1966 as a result of two groups, “The Percussions” and “The Monarchs" merging together.
    I'm curious. Did you intend to have commas around the blue red phrase or is the comma after groups accidental?
    Also note that in Standard American English, the comma, if used, comes before the close-quotes punctuation mark and in British English, it follows the close-quotes punctuation mark. The same is true of the period used with quotation marks in Standard American English, although the rules for question marks and exclamation points are a bit more complicated.
    The situation is more complex than Alan's generalisation would suggest. For previous threads on this point, please see:
    Punctuation quotation - Where to place punctuation marks when using quotation marks.

    In particular, in this sentence the quotation marks enclose the names of groups. None of those names properly include a comma. It would therefore be wrong, in BE, to insert a comma inside the quotation marks.

    Useful source of punctuation advice.

    Returning to the question of commas or not around the coloured phrases - I would put commas around both. See post #6.
     

    Alan Oldstudent

    Member
    United States, English (Standard American)
    No one has yet mentioned the term in apposition. Generally speaking, when you have a noun followed by another noun or a noun phrase in apposition, (that means the same as the first noun), you surround it with commas: Stanislas, my eldest son, was at that moment cleaning out the pigsty.
    Hi Arrius,

    I thought this article in Wikipedia had an interesting treatment on appositives and comma use, both restrictive and nonrestrictive.

    Regards,

    Alan
     

    Alan Oldstudent

    Member
    United States, English (Standard American)
    I'm curious. Did you intend to have commas around the blue red phrase or is the comma after groups accidental?
    An interesting question. If my pronouncements about restrictive and nonrestrictive modifiers are correct, the comma should probably be left out. However, the sentence then loses clarity, which is the whole point of punctuation. Therefore, on reflection, I think I would substitute the word "called" for that comma.
    The R & B male group “The Stylistics” was formed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1966 as a result of two groups called “The Percussions” and “The Monarchs" merging together.
    The situation is more complex than Alan's generalisation would suggest. For previous threads on this point, please see:
    Punctuation quotation - Where to place punctuation marks when using quotation marks.
    I followed your link, and I saw a nice listing of comments. No doubt they provide much valuable information. Thank you for providing this link.

    In particular, in this sentence the quotation marks enclose the names of groups. None of those names properly include a comma. It would therefore be wrong, in BE, to insert a comma inside the quotation marks.

    Useful source of punctuation advice.
    The link you give, which takes one to the website of a respected British university, provides a good and lucid explanation of the use of commas in British English. The rules for American English are a bit different in some respects and to my mind are sometimes not quite as logical, especially in placing the period and comma inside end-quotes punctuation. However, I believe I described accurately the rules of Standard American English, and I provided links to some respected American universities for reference.

    I believe Winston Churchill (whose mother was American) stated that the United States and the United Kingdom are two countries separated by an ocean and a common language.

    Regards,

    Alan
     

    Arrius

    Senior Member
    English, UK
    Thank you Alain Oldstudent for the interesting link.
    One thing I didn't say and , possibly nobody here has said, about these phrases, is that one drops one's voice when saying or reading aloud the phrase in apposition, which is a practical guide on where to put the commas. In My wife Margaret has fair hair, the voice does not drop and there are no commas, but in Young Fred, the last to leave, did not remember to switch off the light it does and there are.
     

    Alan Oldstudent

    Member
    United States, English (Standard American)
    ......Second, I often see expressions similar to #1, like:
    "Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton"
    (from this morning's newspaper)

    I'm afraid this "comma-less" expression might be journalese, though.
    Hi 8769,

    In the phrase "Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton," we have two noun phrases (phrases that function as nouns). The first is "Democratic US presidental candidate," and the second is "Hillary Rodham Clinton." These two are in apposition to each other, a theme referred to by Arrius in an earlier posting in this thread. But the second is a restrictive appositive and therefore not set it off with commas.


    Regards,

    Alan
     

    Alan Oldstudent

    Member
    United States, English (Standard American)
    Thank you Alain Oldstudent for the interesting link.
    One thing I didn't say and , possibly nobody here has said, about these phrases, is that one drops one's voice when saying or reading aloud the phrase in apposition, which is a practical guide on where to put the commas. In My wife Margaret has fair hair, the voice does not drop and there are no commas, but in Young Fred, the last to leave, did not remember to switch off the light it does and there are.
    You make an excellent point, Arrius. Punctuation is an attempt to make writing reflect the subtleties of spoken language.

    The ancient Romans did not have punctuation or even spaces between words. They only used upper case letters. That made it very difficult to read anything without a lot of effort, even for the well-educated person. Just consider what this paragraph would look like without spaces or punctuation.
    THEANCIENTROMANSDIDNOTHAVEPUNCTUATIONOREVENSPACESBETWEENWORDSTH
    EYONLYUSEDUPPERCASELETTERSTHATMADEITVERYDIFFICULTTOREADAPARAGRA
    PHALOUDJUSTCONSIDERWHATTHISPARAGRAPHWOULDLOOKLIKEWITHOUTSPACESO
    RPUNCTUATION

    Julius Caesar was famous for being able to read a military dispatch out loud to his officers at first glance, without rehearsal, without error, and without benefit of punctuation or spacing. He was also able to dictate four letters at the same time. No doubt, he was a linguistic genius. He could speak more than a few languages, including Hebrew and several dialects of German and Celtic, as well as Greek.

    Regards,

    Alan
     

    Arrius

    Senior Member
    English, UK
    The Holy Quran originally did not have any kind of stops either (and still doesn't), commas and full stops being a much later importation from Europe, and in some early texts even the dots that distinguish between several pairs of letters were not written, not to mention the short vowels which are still usually missing even today! But at least the language could not be written in a long string like Latin. Ramadhan Kareem, to those concerned!
    By the way, I think that there is also an unwritten convention in English punctuation, that if a text written scrupulously according to the rules starts to look like an outbreak of smallpox, you leave some of the commas out whatever the rules say. The Germans,unsurprisingly, are much stricter about this kind of thing.
     

    Alan Oldstudent

    Member
    United States, English (Standard American)
    The Holy Quran originally did not have any kind of stops either (and still doesn't), commas and full stops being a much later importation from Europe, and in some early texts even the dots that distinguish between several pairs of letters were not written, not to mention the short vowels which are still usually missing even today! But at least the language could not be written in a long string like Latin. Ramadhan Kareem, to those concerned!
    By the way, I think that there is also an unwritten convention in English punctuation, that if a text written scrupulously according to the rules starts to look like an outbreak of smallpox, you leave some of the commas out whatever the rules say. The Germans,unsurprisingly, are much stricter about this kind of thing.
    I agree with what you just said about English punctuation. Good writing should serve clarity, and clarity is the most important thing of all. English punctuation has its origin in the practice of the compositors in the great publishing houses of the United States, United Kingdom, and other English-speaking countries. Punctuation, as well as font crafting, has always attempted to enhance clarity and elegance.

    I'm not a Muslim, but from what I can gather, Mohamed was a genius gifted with a remarkable memory. The Koran was not written down at first. It was recited verbatim from memory until Uthman had it compiled in written form. In this case, the written form has always been secondary to the recited form, and my guess is that Islamic scholars have always considered the written form to be secondary to the recitation. That would make punctuation and spacing in written form a lot easier to deal with. Then, as centuries passed, Islamic calligraphers developed written Arabic to a high art form that even those of us who do not read it can appreciate.

    Regards,

    Alan
     
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