Punctuation private eye

By Web Master

By TODD M. BUTKOVICH

Guest Columnist


We’ve all walked the halls of the Oakland Center oridled in the front lounge of South Foundation Hall and stopped to gaze at thelatest wall postings advertising free, food-included meetings and local jobpostings.

Most students check these fliers out in hopes ofscoring a free meal at the expense of an hour or bettering their situations inlife. 

But one man does it for a completely differentreason entirely.

Meet Aaron Ozment: Campus hero.

For several months, Aaron has been working toimprove our campus, one used-car flyer at a time.

With a black pen in hand, he has dedicated countlessminutes of his time to clarifying the messages left by his fellow OU studentsby writing in or crossing out punctuation marks on student postings throughoutthe campus.             

“Even nonsense ought to be beautiful,” he says.

“The more extreme the viewpoint, the worse thepunctuation is,” he said, referring to a flier posted in the OC advertising thenext Students for a democratic Society meeting.

With that, he proceeded to demonstrate that thegroup, dedicated to war opposition and direct democracy, has no knowledge ofcorrect comma usage. 

In reading their flier, few would notice brazencomma-use inconsistency, especially in regards to the optional “Oxford comma”(used prior to “and” in a list) which was applied only occasionally, and oftenincorrectly.

Do they oppose “war and imperialism” together, or”war, and imperialism,” as it appears in the middle of a long list of groupno-nos.

Not to mention the troubling capitalization seen inthe group’s “STUDENTS FOR A dEMOCRATIC SOCIETY” heading (he wonders if someSHIFT key mishap is the reason).

Inches from these SdS fliers was the latest flierfrom ISSE: International Students for Social Equality, an organization whichemploys rhetoric and goals similar to those of SdS.

However, ISSE impressed Ozment with their flawlessuse of grammar and punctuation, proving that there are English majors evenwithin the extremists.

One huge difference between ISSE and SdS remainsthat despite their ideological similarities, one prefers to abbreviate UnitedStates as “U.S.,” while the other shuns the use of periods.

It must be because they stand in the way betweenwords and the people who read them.

Aaron, a senior and East Asian and Japanese studiesmajor, hopes to become a literary translator, bridging the gap between Englishand Japanese, and between English and English.

His best advice for translating proper English intothe more common Bennigan’s employee vernacular: Slur your words, simplify yourdiction and above all, use a hell of a lot of profanity.

Aaron is willing to be reasonable, however. 

“I give them the benefit of the doubt if I’m notsure,” he said, referring to a questionable hyphen in an ad for a “sub-lease.”           

The art of punctuation enforcement is nothing new.

 In 2004 British writer Lynne Truss’ “Eats, Shoots & Leaves” topped the bestseller lists and sold more than one million copies.

Even in the era of a changing English language,perfection and accuracy die hard.

In order to properly break the rules of grammar, youfirst need to know them. 

“How do you rebel against order if chaos isorderly?” Ozment asks in a manner of eloquence rarely heard among college students.

So here’s to you, Aaron Ozment. 

If you can still read this under all of thecorrecting marks you’ve undoubtedly made, Oakland University salutes you.

Editor’s Note: Although expressedin the column as an error, the lowercase “d” in “STUDENTS FOR A dEMOCRATICSOCIETY” is intentional in order to distinguish the group from the DemocraticParty.

Also, the groupintentionally writes the “d” in its acronym in lowercase.