The Four Most Common Ways To Use The Comma


Teachers tell us commas allow us to pause for breath. This is not strictly true. Commas are there to help us avoid confusion

These are the four most common ways to use commas:

  1. To list items: We need cheese, bread, coffee and biscuits. (Many people still use the Oxford comma after the word, coffee, but this is not necessary.)
  2. To distinguish a name from the rest of the sentence: Tell me, Holly, why were you early today?
  3. To enclose additional thoughts: He was, without doubt, the worst boyfriend my daughter ever had.
  4. To separate adjectives:
  • Example 1: Sipho’s beautiful, snobbish, dangerous girlfriend. You need commas if the adjectives are separate descriptions for an object or person. However, a list of adjectives does not always require commas.
  • Example 2: Sarah’s blue silk skirt. You don’t need commas if the adjectives are part of the same object.

by Amanda Patterson

If you enjoyed this article, read these posts:

  1. How to Deflate those Inflated Phrases
  2. The Ellipsis
  3. Semicolons and Colons
  4. 93 Extremely Bad Business Writing Habits to Break
  5. Commonly confused abbreviations: etc., i.e., e.g.
  6. Hyphens & Dashes
  7. Punctuation and Dialogue
  8. What is a sentence fragment?
  9. The 12 Worst Mistakes People Make In Email Subject Lines
  10. Begin at the end – the one essential email trick every business writer should know

The Four Most Common Ways To Use The Comma

The Art of Conlanging



I’ve been hearing a lot lately (from conlangers specifically) that people aren’t considering language construction as a form of art.

But every conversation I’ve had with non-linguists (and wether they’re sci-fi fans or not) have expressed a sort of sincerity with conlangs. On several occasions, they explicitly acknowledged invented languages as an art instead of ‘something useless that nerds do’, which I thought was very interesting.

There haven’t been any official polls or studies showing what the general public thinks of language construction, but I’m not sure the general public today is as against conlanging as conlangers think it is. I think in the past, it may have been the case that conlangs got a lot of flack. But this evident change in perception can be attributed, I think, to Dothraki, Na’vi, and other recent conlangs entering pop culture.

What have everyone else’s experiences been? Do you find that non-conlangers consider conlanging a form of art? Or is the “nerdy hobby” view still prevalent?

Just realised I forgot to add a reply to this post myself. So let’s do it now.

The issue here is one of generation. The newer generation of conlangers (basically anyone under 20-25) is growing in a post-LOTR movies, post-Avatar movie, and post-Game of Thrones time (you have to remember that the Fellowship of the Ring movie was released in December 2001. That’s just a tad less than 14 years. For a 20-year old, that’s basically all of their conscious life, but for someone like me, that’s less than half my age). You cannot underestimate the effect that the Lord of the Ring movies have had on conlanging: more than Star Trek and Klingon ever did, the LOTR movies catapulted conlanging into the public consciousness, maybe not immediately as an art form per se, but at least as a necessary part of serious fantasy and science-fiction worldbuilding.

And yet check out any article about conlanging in the mainstream media (The Guardian regularly publishes articles about conlanging, especially around the season premières of Game of Thrones). However sympathetic those articles are to conlanging, they still have difficulties to acknowledge it’s a even a thing outside of its use in other media. And then look at the comment sections of such articles! I’m willing to bet that at least half the comments will be negative in some way (not necessarily downright insulting, but at least derisive). And 50% negative reactions is still better than how things were before 2001! I mean, before Arika Okrent published her book In the Land of Invented Languages (2009!), the only modern publication that was remotely about conlanging was Marina Yaguello’s infamous Lunatic Lovers of Language (which I won’t link to because I don’t want anyone to read this crap), from 1991, which as its title indicates was less than friendly towards language construction and the people who indulge in that activity (basically, for Yaguello, there were only three types of conlangers: harmless nerds with no life, self-harmful lunatics, and dangerous psychopaths). And her opinion was basically the prevalent one among non-conlangers, when they had heard of conlanging at all. It was not uncommon for people who created languages to be told that they should be seeking psychiatric help! There’s a reason why Tolkien called it the Secret Vice!

And while attitudes certainly have changed, you have to realise that for most of us, that change is extremely recent! You may not clearly remember the pre-LOTR movie world, but we do, and that colours our perception of the general audience’s reactions to conlanging nowadays. For instance, while I do see all the positive feedback that people like David Peterson get here, I also see the misunderstandings, the damning with faint praise, and in other places (like article comments, as mentioned above), I see all the negativity as well. And you know how people are: we tend to remember the negative stuff while forgetting the positive stuff. And for people like us, who’ve lived half their lives (and for many of us much more than that) being told we were abnormal whenever we dared open up about our hobby, that stuff made us over-sensitive to negative reactions.

And once again, it’s not as if I’m talking about the far past: the 90′s are not so long ago. And when you ask people about their experiences, they will tend to mix past and present, averaging over time. So while the last years, that have seen a great increase in positive reactions to conlanging from the general public, do count for something, average that with 20 years of bad experiences and you’ve still got a negative general feeling about it (and don’t forget that people tend to socialise with people of their own generation: young people may be more positive about the idea of conlanging, but that doesn’t mean people of my generation or older are. Don’t forget those grew up in those less positive times themselves, and still tend to carry the same prejudice they built up back then).

Finally, a problem that I think conlanging still is camping with, as I mentioned in the beginning, is that it is still strongly associated in pop culture with other media. Conlanging as a tool to make story-telling more immersive is nowadays generally accepted as a worthy use of time. Conlanging for its own sake, on the other hand? I’m still not convinced it’s seen as a form of art yet by the general public. I’d love to be proven wrong though.

Making A Language: Part 4

Did you know that a constructed language will be in Dark Soldier? Now you do. Here’s how its evolving.

It’s been a while since I did this, but we’re making a return with this blog series! Sospéke is back, and it’s bigger than ever. I didn’t get the greatest photo of it, but here’s an idea to help:

Photo on 5-20-15 at 1.23 PM

I only have seven letters so far (fourteen if you consider the tails and bodies to be different). I am so pumped to have an actual alphabet to work with. It’s wonderful. I actually now know what the…

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Making A Language: Part 4

It’s been a while since I did this, but we’re making a return with this blog series! Sospéke is back, and it’s bigger than ever. I didn’t get the greatest photo of it, but here’s an idea to help:

Photo on 5-20-15 at 1.23 PM

I only have seven letters so far (fourteen if you consider the tails and bodies to be different). I am so pumped to have an actual alphabet to work with. It’s wonderful. I actually now know what the words for wind and fire look like, and it’s beautiful. I have a plan for how sentences will be set up. Hint: sentences will not end with periods.

So that you understand the above picture better, the English letters above the symbols are the sounds that the symbols make. You may notice that there are occasionally multiple English letters above symbols. This is simply my way of explaining non-English sounds. “RR” represents a rolling r, common to languages like Spanish. “KH” represents a more guttural sound as is common to German.

The sound of the language is based off a mixture of both German and Gaelic (yes, Irish and Scots). Yes, I know, it’s perhaps not the best mix of all time. However, if I’m making a language, I want to honor my heritage from both sides of the family with this creation.

To remind those who are new to the whole concept, the words are made up of at least two parts. The body is the main part of the word. The centers, which look like dots, are placeholders, to show what place the word has in the sentence. Without a center, a letter is just a letter. I haven’t fully fleshed out their use yet, but as of right now, they determine things like pronouns, nouns, verbs, etc. The tails are the additions to the bodies, which add to the words complexity. (Ex: a complex form of “wind” would be words like “windy”, “flying”, “breathing”, etc.)

As of right now, I don’t have much grammar down. But I have the basic sounds, and it’s a beautiful, beautiful thing. I feel like a really proud dad. In a way, I am.

If you want to see the evolution of Sospéke, please see parts 1, 2, and 3.

For those who don’t know what Gaelic sounds like, here are some videos. Sospéke will sound something like it. Enjoy.

Pre-Order The Art of Language Invention


Exciting announcement! My new book, The Art of Language Invention, is now accepting pre-orders!


That’s the cover, and I’m absolutely over the moon about this. The Art of Language Invention is a book I’ve long been wanting to write, and Elda Rotor over at Penguin Random House gave me that opportunity. The book will serve as an introduction to language creation, in addition to looking in detail at some of the languages I’ve created. It can be read by someone without any background in language or linguistics, but there’s enough advanced material in there to be profitable for conlangers of all skill levels. Some of the languages featured in the book are: Dothraki, High Valyrian, Astapori Valyrian, Castithan, Irathient, Indojisnen, Sondiv, and Shiväisith. (Sorry, no Trigedasleng! The book was done and delivered by the time I was working on The 100! Ditto Penny Dreadful.)

The Art of Language Invention comes out on September 29th, but you can order it now, and I’d like to get the word out about it. So!

For TEN (10) of those who help get the word out about The Art of Language Invention being available for pre-order, I’m offering to immortalize your name (or handle) in one of the a priori languages I’ve created for TV or film. Those are: Dothraki, High Valyrian, Astapori Valyrian, Castithan, Indojisnen, Irathient, Sondiv, Shiväisith, or three to be named. Interested? See the details below!


In order to qualify, you must do one of the following by 10:00 a.m. on May 26th, 2015:

  • Reblog this post (favorites are appreciated, but they do not count for this).
  • Retweet the tweet associated with this post (favorites are appreciated, but they do not count for this).
  • Share this post on Facebook* (likes are appreciated but they do not count for this; also see CAVEATS below).
  • Share/reshare this post on Google+ (+1′s are appreciated but do not count for this; see CAVEATS below).
  • Compose your own post on Tumblr or your own tweet on Twitter that links to this post (but you MUST tag me or mention me on Twitter—@Dedalvs—otherwise I won’t know about it!).

Doing each of the items above will give you one opportunity to have your name or handle (or friend’s or loved one’s name, if you so choose) made into a word in one of the above-listed languages. This means each person can have up to four chances (but no more than four). Despite having multiple chances, each person can be chosen only once.

Oh, also, see if you can use the tag or hashtag #aoli (or #AoLI if you prefer). I’ll be using it for the book from here on out!


If you are selected, you may rank the languages above how you wish, but the final decision is mine (sometimes a certain name just won’t fit the phonology of a given language, or there will already be a word associated with that phonological string in said language). You will not be able to choose what the word means, but I promise not to make it something awful. I cannot guarantee that your word will ever be used on air for any show. (Though, of course, if you choose a language associated with a show that’s been canceled, I can guarantee you that it will never be used on air.) And, of course, the created word will officially be the property of the company that owns the rights to the language it was created for. You will not be the author of the word or have any claim to it any way.

I’m going to take down every tweet and every reblog myself and keep track of them. Of those, I will randomly select ten, and then contact those ten people. If they don’t respond in a reasonable amount of time (two days), I will move on to someone else. (Also, note that this is just me doing it. I may make mistakes. I’ll do my best not to, though! I’ll get thisallegra to help me; she’s good at everything.)

I’ll do a follow-up post here with everyone’s words and identifying those who won if they wish to be identified. If they don’t, I’ll hang onto that information myself.

If you make a post on Facebook, I have to be able to find out about it in some way. Facebook has a lot of privacy settings built in, so if you can’t show me your post, I can’t count it.

If you make a post on Google+, tag me in it. You can find me here.

If you’d like your word to be in one of the three languages that have yet to be named, I won’t be able to share those words until the projects come to light. This means I won’t be able to share those words and will not be able to tell you what they’re for right away.

EDIT: Mentioning this now since I didn’t mention it the first time: While I’d love for you to pre-order the book, that will not get you an extra entry. I don’t have any way to verify who’s pre-ordered. Plus, I want participation to be free!

* * * * *

More information on The Art of Language Invention will be revealed in the months to come, so stay tuned! In the meantime, thanks for reading! ❤

Pre-Order The Art of Language Invention








A truly MINDBLOWING lesson on the origin of American Southern accents.


The gif could not be more perfect in describing what just happened.

yay historical linguistics!

I SHOWED THIS TO true-blue-brit!

what’s really interesting is that americans, particularly southern speakers, now are thought to sound more like shakespeare would have sounded than the english now sound (usually like queen’s english is what we think of as shakespeare

This is what a linguist explained to me some years ago about English in the South, much to my surprise. It is interested to hear these theories again.

Interestingly, the Australian accent developed in a rather similar manner. While we as a nation adopted received pronunciation, our accents are a lot more drawly than our British counterparts.

Along with my interest in writing, I’ve recently become obsessive with language. So this… I love it.

Making a Language: Part 1

So, as the comments section requested language, I’m going to do it until somebody either complains or they ask for another thing. This is one the greatest things I’ve done in a very long time. I don’t want to disgrace his name by putting myself on his level… but I feel kind of like Tolkien. Admittedly, his language is probably going to stay forever cooler than mine, but it’s still fun, and throughout this series I may make drastic changes to the way it’s written.

I was inspired by Chinese pictographs for this particular language. I saw one particular picture that meant something, and then if you drew it multiple times, it meant something else. Well, my language is not going to be quite that complicated. No worries there. The connection works well in my mind.

You’ve already seen one word written in this language. I will show it below, although this is a slightly old diagram. It’s close enough to current that I’ll show it. There are some differences for how I recently approached this. In the original style, as in this style, it’s split up into three sections: a tail, a body and a center. I haven’t fully decided what to do with the centers.

This is how it works for now: The more complicated a concept is, the more complicated it is to draw it. For example, this word does not mean “air”. This word means “wind”. If this were the word for air, it would not have the tail portion, which means “moving”. It would just have the body. The body represents the main idea of the word, rather than the main sound. (Most letters do have a sound that reminds the reader of the idea, however.) Tails are something like adverbs and adjectives in English. Is give support to the body. Therefore, with the tail, it translates to “moving air”. Basically, wind.

For now, because of the added meaning to the tails, the centers do not have the same use. I will likely use them just to differentiate verbs and nouns. For instance, reversing the inner curve may change this word’s meaning from “wind” to “blew”. And this is where the hard decisions comes in.

It seems wrong to me to have the nouns and the verbs look so nearly the same. I’m worried this’ll make the language too boring to look at. Sadly, for language, it seems to be function over form. As an artist, this bothers me, but I have to work with it.

The greatest problem of the hieroglyphics language is simply having to create so many words. In the end, I may have to simply reduce it to representing the sounds. It’s pretty sad, but I’ll live. Oh well.

And as most of this has been implied before, here’s a new thing for you. As I said, the descriptors sometimes sound like what they’re representing. In this case, the letter for moving/rushing has a hard “h” sound. That’s right, the first letter for wind sounds like a sigh. I thought it worked.

That’s it for today, tune in… I don’t know when. I’ll probably make this a weekly thing. So, let me know what you thought of this, and if I should keep doing it. Thanks for reading such a long one today!

Making Words: An Announcement

I’m doing it. I’m making a language.

At eighteen, it is probably one of the greatest undertakings of my life. It may take some time, and the language may not even be complete by the time the series is over. But I will do my best, and I will try.

Why am I making a language, you might ask? I am a writer, so really, I do whatever I want. But if you really must know the reason, it will be one of the official languages in the book. It is known only as the “Original” for now. During the era of Dark Soldier, Book 1, it is a dead language. But a few of the characters, and me, being the writer, are going to be bringing it back.

And this is where you, the fans, come in. This is going to be the first of a few collaborative projects between me and my future and growing fanbase – we are going to make the language together! You get to help construct one of the most epic languages since elvish, and it will be awesome!

Ok, so maybe it’s not quite that awesome, but it is interesting. It is a mix of a European letter-based alphabet and a Egyptian-style hieroglypic system. Basically, certain sounds are represented by different style lines and shapes, and together they create a symbol. Ideas, like movement, can also be represented. In the case of movement, it is represented by a wavy line, like in the very first letter of this system, shown below (apologies, I am no photo-manipulation master):

Showing all the pieces of a letter for the current setup.
Showing all the pieces of a letter for the current setup. Word shown represents wind/air/sky, depending on how it is written.

This is only the beginning of the “Original” system, but with your guys help, I think we can make a complex, understandable, and beautiful language. This language will feature both uvular and rolling sounds, so it’s also quite varied in its sounds that can be made.

Can’t wait to begin working with you guys on this, and seeing your ideas for how to better the language!