To the Editor:
I am compelled to respond to Alan Warhaftig’s online Commentary “No Wiz at Grammar” (Sept. 24, 2007). While many of his criticisms of the grammar and punctuation J.K. Rowling uses in her most recent Harry Potter novel are justifiable, I must point out that the English, the Australians, and often the Canadians consider the comma to be an appropriate mechanism to link two independent clauses. The comma splice is an American invention. Being a reader of British novels, I discovered this years ago. If Mr. Warhaftig were to consult any writing manual published in these countries, the only reference he might find to the comma splice would be the comment that it is to be considered only in addressing an American audience.
Lorraine S. Caplan
A version of this article appeared in the October 17, 2007 edition of Education Week as The ‘Comma Splice’ and Harry Potter’s Grammar