An Analysis of "The Humble Comma" by Pico Ayer-Ap English

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AP English “The Humble Comma”, written by Pico Iyer, is an exquisite example of what one might call well-placed rhetorical devices. Written and submitted to internationally-known Time magazine, its purpose is to educate the average American household about the importance of language and its dwindling significance in our society. Iyer makes many points that strengthen his argument as well as inspire the reader, but it is in paragraph two that he especially utilizes his mastery of language. The specific purpose of paragraph two was to emphasize the decline in value that we as humans have over language. Iyer expresses that “punctuation, one is taught, has a point: to keep up law and order.” Through use of the metaphor of road signs placed along the highway, he pushes further that commas and punctuation in general enhance language and give it meaningful direction. One can gather from this that he believes punctuation to be a formal communication device, and that it connects the sentences that connect people. Iyer goes on to include a direct example of a specific type of profound literature—the love letter. Using a real letter from Gary Gilmore to his girlfriend, Iyer is able to nearly completely convince the reader that punctuation makes all the difference, as the love letter holds a lot in meaning but lacks the necessary punctuation and spelling to create a “wow” factor. This usage of incorrect grammar sends a message to the public: that punctuation matters and depending on its usage, can create a different meaning to the content it’s applied to. The “humble” comma matters, and the fact that language is being destroyed by the use of electronics and instant messaging is a legitimate problem in the eyes of people such as Iyer. The purpose of the article, “The Humble Comma”, was to bring to attention the loss of respect most people have for punctuation and

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