The pausal comma

Subaru’s jump

in March sales was, says, the company, because

consumers are responding to our new campaign, ‘It’s What Makes a Subaru,

a Subaru.’

Yes, that comma is there, always – in the print

ads, in the television ads, in the press releases. I’d love to have been

a fly on the wall at the advertising agency during the discussions over that

comma, and whether it should stay or go. Clearly, it’s ungrammatical. But it

also serves a purpose: it connotes a pause in the subvocalised (or, in the case

of the television ads, vocalised) reading of the slogan.

My initial feeling is to disapprove of putting the glorious comma to such mundane

use – but then again I’m sure that many poems use it in just such a manner

at the end of each line. And since there’s no other mark which would serve such

a purpose, perhaps we should treat this expansion of the comma’s role with equanimity.

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