Written by Harry Porter
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Topics: Language, English

Sunday, 20 June 2004

image for Her Majesty not amused at bad punctuation
Her Majesty launches her comma crackdown

Abuse and misuse of the English language are now punishable by fines.

HM The Queen, particularly incensed over incorrect usage of her commas and apostrophes, announced from the balcony of Buckingham Palace this morning: "One has had enough."

The Queen's English has been liable to tax and levies since the signing of the Magna Carta by King John at Runnymede on June 15, 1215 - a right the Crown has not exercised until now.

Paragraph 60 of the preamble to that historic document stated:

"...all these aforesaid customs and liberties, especially punctuation of ye King's tongue, the observances of which we have granted in our kingdom as far as pertains to us towards our men, shall be observed by all of our kingdom, as well clergy as laymen, as far as pertains to them towards their men. Lapses will be punishable by such monetary penalties as seen fit by the Crown."

For nearly eight centuries the non-imposition of these penalties has been taken for granted as the Queen's English spread across the globe.

Now, ironically, those who learn English as a second language have a better command of punctuation than those born into it.

In a carefully prepared, and perfectly punctuated, statement, drawn up with the blessing of all major political parties as well as Westminster's top mandarins, The Queen announced: "The sprinkling of my apostrophes with such abandon, together with such wanton behaviour pertaining to my comma, is an affront to my tongue.

"My proud language, mastered in its written form by the likes of Shakespeare, William Blake and Henry Miller, is now perilously close to degenerating into the script of phonetics. As protector of this language, both written and spoken, I have, therefore, decreed that we must desist from such malpractice."

A Bill will be laid before Parliament after the summer recess, outlining the steps towards the prosecution of offenders.

Westminster sources believe if the clampdown on apostrophe and comma misuse is successful, it may be extended to cover collective nouns and basic clause structure.

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