phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

A comma, you say?

Posted by R. Berg on May 14, 2001

In Reply to: A comma, you say? posted by Bob on May 14, 2001

: : : Here's something for you "comma lovers" to toy with.
: : : Is anyone aware of the Latin horacle, which became famous for a "comma only" difference?
: : : Some famous warrior asked about his upcoming war campaign, and the response was:
: : : "Ibis, redibis, non morieris in bello."
: : : Or was it:
: : : "Ibis, redibis non, morieris in bello?"
: : : As I said, only a comma would have been moved - but it meant a big difference for the warrior alright!
: : : Ok guys, the (US) clock is ticking!

: : If he were an Italian warrior I should imagine it would require more that the mere movement of a comma to move him from the status of a joke.
: :
: Or, consider the difference between
: "Let's eat, Grandma." and
: "Let's eat Grandma."

I think it was Theodore Bernstein who gave the example "The Democrats say the Republicans will lose the election" and "The Democrats, say the Republicans, will lose the election."

M.M.: Sorry, I can't guess, unless the answer is "The ibis, the red ibis, isn't dying of stomach trouble." But, then, I think "casus belli" means "It's fattening" and "prima facie" means "to apply makeup foundation."