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Monday, 22 December 2014

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Parking free-for all? Blame punctuation

Free parking is becoming harder to find, and ever more treasured.

So drivers in Whitehaven could be forgiven for revving their engines in delight at this sign on the seafront.

Whitehaven Harbour Commissioners declare: ‘No parking enforcement in operation’. It’s rather unusual for any organisation to announce a parking free for all.

But Reiver fears that the sign is misleading. And lack of punctuation is to blame.

If we insert a hyphen the real story becomes clear:

‘No parking – enforcement in operation.’

This gives food for thought to those who favour a punctuation free for all. They seem to feel that apostrophes, commas and the like make language more complicated. In truth, they simplify matters considerably.

Study the following sentence and consider the difference a colon and a comma can make.

A woman without her man is nothing.

A woman: without her, man is nothing.

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