A good problem to have?

22 05 2013

541421_581631565189171_1179898559_n

Advertisements




NYT: The Comma That Costs 1 Million Dollars (Canadian)

20 09 2012

This is an old article that my wife found when searching for grammar and punctuation material for a class she’s teaching. It’s definitely something to show your students when they say that commas aren’t important, or that punctuation isn’t a big deal.

I should also mention that my amazing wife named her fantasy football team “The Oxford Commas.” Love that woman!

– dEV

#     #     #

Published: October 25, 2006

Correction Appended

OTTAWA, Oct. 24 — If there is a moral to the story about a contract dispute between Canadian companies, this is it: Pay attention in grammar class.

The dispute between Rogers Communications of Toronto, Canada’s largest cable television provider, and a telephone company in Atlantic Canada, Bell Aliant, is over the phone company’s attempt to cancel a contract governing Rogers’ use of telephone poles. But the argument turns on a single comma in the 14-page contract. The answer is worth 1 million Canadian dollars ($888,000).

Citing the “rules of punctuation,” Canada’s telecommunications regulator recently ruled that the comma allowed Bell Aliant to end its five-year agreement with Rogers at any time with notice.

Rogers argues that pole contracts run for five years and automatically renew for another five years, unless a telephone company cancels the agreement before the start of the final 12 months.

The contract is a standard one for the use of utility poles, negotiated between a cable television trade association and an alliance of telephone companies. French and English versions were approved by a government regulator about six years ago.

The dispute is over this sentence: “This agreement shall be effective from the date it is made and shall continue in force for a period of five (5) years from the date it is made, and thereafter for successive five (5) year terms, unless and until terminated by one year prior notice in writing by either party.”

The regulator concluded that the second comma meant that the part of the sentence describing the one-year notice for cancellation applied to both the five-year term as well as its renewal. Therefore, the regulator found, the phone company could escape the contract after as little as one year.

“The meaning of the clause was clear and unambiguous,” the regulator wrote in a ruling in July.

But Kenneth G. Engelhart, vice president for regulatory affairs at Rogers, disagreed. “Why they feel that a comma should somehow overrule the plain meaning of the words is beyond me,” he said. “I don’t think it makes any sense.”

He acknowledged, however, that lawyers for his company might have underestimated the regulator’s interest in grammar.

“We were obviously too confident the first time around,” he said.

But this time, Rogers has turned to Canada’s other official language, French, as well as its own outside grammar expert to appeal the ruling.

(Full Story)

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/25/business/worldbusiness/25comma.html?_r=1





Best argument ever for the use of the Oxford comma.

31 08 2012