Thursday, January 05, 2006

Punctuation is important

Not that I'm claiming perfection, or anything!

Compare these two letters:


Dear Mother,

In law, there is nothing to make me say thank you, but the quality of your gifts compels me at least to write to tell you how I feel. Thank you so much for the presents! I was expecting nothing more than a token yet, again, you have exceeded even your own incredible standards.

It was a shame you had to stay here for such a short time. I thought I might have coped, but it was unbearable seeing you leave. The relief was immense when I heard we might see you again soon. I wanted to end it all by saying goodbye now. I hope I will not have to say it to you again for a long time. If you have the opportunity to spend Christmas elsewhere next year, please do not.

Much love

Matthew
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Dear Mother-in-Law,

There is nothing to make me say thank you, but the quality of your gifts compels me at least to write to tell you how I feel. Thank you? So much for the presents I was expecting. Nothing more than a token, yet again! You have exceeded even your own incredible standards.

It was a shame you had to stay here. For such a short time, I thought I might have coped, but it was unbearable. Seeing you leave, the relief was immense. When I heard we might see you again soon, I wanted to end it all. By saying goodbye now, I hope I will not have to say it to you again for a long time. If you have the opportunity to spend Christmas elsewhere next year, please do.

Not much love

Matthew
Same words, different punctuation, completely different meaning.

More examples here.

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