bitguru blog

a guru of bits, or just a bit player?

I’m not Kisslish

Posted by bitguru on March 11, 2007

My four-year old son often claims, “I’m not ticklish.” But when he was receiving some kissing this afternoon, possibly against his will, he declared, “I’m not kisslish.” Cute, eh? He’s been impressing me with his vocabulary lately, and not only with made-up (if apt) words.

I’m unsure of spelling the of kisslish. He clearly pronounced it with three syllables, so I almost went with kisselish or kissleish. But ticklish is usually pronounced with three syllables in my experience, though my dictionary does not concur.

As an aside, what’s the deal with commas before quotation marks? I reluctantly included them here because they have been deemed correct, but I don’t like it. I don’t use them when composing email and other informal communications. I’m not sure why I don’t put blog entries in that category.


4 Responses to “I’m not Kisslish”

  1. […] Complete lack of knitting, but there is a cute story about Bunny!

  2. JulieFrick said

    I’m not sure about “the deal,” though perhaps the comma before the quotation is a visual cue to the reader that there is a new voice (not the writer’s) about to speak. Readers are like sheep. They need a lot of herding. At least, that’s what I teach my kids in writing class.

  3. Alan Cole said

    In writing down what somebody said, the comma is more important than the quotation marks. What the quotation marks mainly do is privide a cue that it’s a verbatim version of what the person said. The marks also show the start & end of what the person said — more important in longish quotations than in the following short examples:

    Swim, she said.
    March, he commanded.
    Please no, she begged.
    I declare, I don’t know what gets into kids today.
    I swear, this global warming is melting my Slurpee.
    I’m not kisslish, he said.

    A way to introduce what they call a direct quotation (the kind calling for the use of quotation marks) without using a comma is to go with a colon (:) instead.

    The nice thing about being proprietor of your own blog is that you can do it any way you want. Not only that, using or not using commas, etc., is not a moral issue. It’s only a matter of making it easy on the reader, not so much to hold the reader’s attention (your content is supposed to do that), but to prevent losing the reader’s attention because of reading material that’s hard to follow. That is to say, writers have to do the hard work because readers won’t. Thus, writing in a way that’s (mostly) standard is less apt to confuse us readers than exposing us to nonstandard spellings, punctuation, commafication, quotification, etc. (Made-up words are risky, too.) Yet reading material that is clear & simple is not likely to confuse anybody, regardless of whether that particular reading material follows all the stylistic conventions.

    I like to sneak in some nonstandardisms of my own now & then. The only example I can think of right off is dispensing with commas when using those 2-letter USPS state abbreviations in place of the old fashioned dictionary abbreviations of state names — e.g., Last week we were in Jacksonville FL for a fancypants car show. Also: The week before that I bought a horn from a music shop in Aberdeen SD. In those examples, I think it’s easier on the reader to leave the commas out. What do you think?

    For some clear & simple guidance on commas, quotation marks, & all that kind of stuff, check out…


  4. bassclar said

    Actually, the USPS makes it easy to leave out commas because it claims the two-letter state codes are not abbreviations. The USPS encourages us to omit the comma before the state code. (On the envelope, I mean. I doubt it cares what we do with it in our prose.) Despite this, I often include the commas on my envelopes. I’m not sure why.

    Of course, the state codes are indeed abbreviations in everything but name. And in fact it’s not too hard to find a USPS page that identifies them as abbreviations by name.

    Abbreviations aside, I’ve noticed that people are good at placing commas between the city and state, but many are not so good at placing one after the state when the sentence continues. I gather they were not taught that the state name is essentially an appositive phrase.

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