comma with fronted object: Me, she had dispensed from joining

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Marius

New Member
England
Using Larry Trask's 'Guide to Punctuation' website, University of Sussex, I have been endeavouring to improve my understanding of the correct use of commas.

To test my understanding and referring to his definitions of the four types of comma (Listing, Joining, Gapping and Bracketing) I randomly looked up 'Jane Eyre' as a source to see how they occurred here. On page 1 (already!) I am now confused by there use in the following sentence; where as before it would have seemed perfectly normal to me to suggest a natural pause:

'Me, she had dispensed from joining the group, saying, "She regretted to be....... etc.

The first two commas don't seemed justified now using these newly learned definitions. Can somebody shed some light on which one if any fits. Bracketing, the closest one, doesn't appear to stand up as 'Me saying' is not a sentence in its own right.

Many thanks
Marius.
 
  • cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    Welcome to the forums, Marius!

    I don't know Mr. Trask's system, so I'll just be old-fashioned.

    Me, she had...

    Me whom she had

    The comma produces a pause, followed by a clause describing me. Me, appositively dismissed..
     

    petereid

    Senior Member
    english
    She is emphasisng "Me" by starting the sentence with it
    Otherwise it would have read
    "She had dispensed me from joining the group, saying, "She regretted to be......."
    I like the construction " Me, she had...." for the emphasis she gives to herself
    I don't see the need for comma before the quoted speech ,"She...."
    That is not normal usage.
     

    maxiogee

    Banned
    English
    Hiya Marius and welcome.

    Like cuchuflete, I am unfamiliar with Mr Trask, but I would caution against making any determination on correct usage of spelling, grammar or punctuation based on a novel written almost 150 years ago.
     

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    Fowler, in Modern English Usage, refers to something called
    "apposition commas". It might be interesting to have a grammarian define those, and see where they fit in Mr. Trask's classification scheme.

    I suspect they are these: Marius, recently registered in the forums, presented a question.
     

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    Straying farther off Trask,

    To indicate a division in a sentence as by an interpolated word, phrase, or clause, especially when such a division is accompanied by a slight pause in speech.
    (Webster’s Encyclopaedic Unabridged Dictionary, 1996)​
    source

    If a relative clause adds parenthetical, nondefining information, it is nonrestrictive. A nonrestrictive (parenthetical) element is set off by commas, as in these examples.

    ~Mr. Smith, who is a well-respected lawyer, has just retired from active practice.
    source
     

    petereid

    Senior Member
    english
    maxiogee said:
    Hiya Marius and welcome.

    Like cuchuflete, I am unfamiliar with Mr Trask, but I would caution against making any determination on correct usage of spelling, grammar or punctuation based on a novel written almost 150 years ago.
    And also remember the typesetters, who were not usually well educated, also made mistakes. Resetting a page manually was costly. So typesetting errors were rarely corrected after publication.
     

    Marius

    New Member
    England
    Peter thank you for the reply. I understand why she constructed the sentence the way she did for the reasons you have stated, but the guide to commas I looked up still doesn't seem to justify there use on this occasion.

    This is why I remain confused. Without the commas the sentence would still have clarity so is this a matter of 'correct' punctuation being more a matter of personal interpretation (within certain reasonable limits of course) or does there exist in a given country a single accepted approach/standard as implied by Trask.

    Cheers
    Marius.
     

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    Hi, Marius.

    If you were speaking the sentence, I believe you might dispense with the first comma, but would you also drop the second one?

    'Me, she had dispensed from joining the group, saying, "She regretted to be....... etc.

    For me there is a logical and natural pause after 'group'.
     

    Marius

    New Member
    England
    Cuchuflete 'apposition commas' and the other examples you quote appear to be referred to as 'Bracketing Commas' by Trask and make perfect sense to me. The terminology can be various it seems but its the correct use that I am trying to pin down of course.

    Perhaps it is just a case type setting error or slap dash editing and I shouldn't get to hung up about it !

    Many thanks for the replies from all
    Marius.
     

    Marius

    New Member
    England
    cuchuflete said:
    Hi, Marius.

    If you were speaking the sentence, I believe you might dispense with the first comma, but would you also drop the second one?

    'Me, she had dispensed from joining the group, saying, "She regretted to be....... etc.

    For me there is a logical and natural pause after 'group'.
    Cucheflete you are right of course, and dispensing with the first comma would justify the definition of the use of Bracketing Comma 'using' being the interruption as Trask (and probably others) would refer to it as.

    So I think I'm clear now !

    Old books (any books actually of course) can be imperfect it seems in the punctuation sense because of all the parts that go into producing them.
     

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    Not to beat this dead horse too extensively, but I can see a perfectly valid reason for the first comma.

    As written: Me, she had dispensed from joining the group, saying, "She regretted ...

    paraphased as if the first comma were not there: She had dispensed me from joining the group,.........

    Me becomes the object, rather than the subject.

    In the original, the bracketed clause describes me. Without the initial comma, the emphasis shifts to She.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Charlotte Bronte's use of commas should not be considered an exemplar. It may be interesting, but many reliable sources will point out that punctuation style changes, and has changed a great deal over centuries.

    The Trask punctuation guide is exactly what it calls itself, a guide. There are other guides. Trask is useful as an indicator, but should not be considered as a statement of absolute truth. For example, HERE is a style guide for The Economist. The two guides will not agree on everything.
     
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