Punctuation experiment rehearsal

Over on Stan Carey’s blog there’s talk of conducting a punctuation experiment sometime. It’s an idea that I tried out on something he wrote, after which we agreed that we should try it on a more organised scale, with more people involved.

Now, there’s only one reason for me not to have a turn at conducting such an experiment — namely that I just don’t have the readership to make it worthwhile. I would be lucky to get one response.

But it occurs to me now that this doesn’t feel like a problem if we call my version a rehearsal. Let Stan conduct the experiment proper, but in the meantime a rehearsal may be a good way to better determine the number, nature and length of quotations that should be used. (In other words, I would like a turn . . . and a little post-hoc justification never hurt anyone.)

[UPDATE: The experiment has now ended, and the results published here, although that needn’t stop you from submitting your answers anyway if you want to.]

So if you would like to take part in this rehearsal, here are your instructions:

  • Below are seven quotations, each taken from a different book on my shelf. From each quotation I have removed most of the punctuation (as well as sentence-initial capitalisation).
  • Your task is to put all that stuff back in. Copy the quotations below, insert whatever commas / sentence endings / hyphens / dashes / colons / etc you feel are most suitable, and paste the result in the comments when you’re satisfied.
  • You don’t have to repunctuate all of the quotations; you can just do the one or two that most strike your fancy. Also, if you recognise any of them (perhaps you’ve read the same book), then perhaps skip that one and just do the rest.
  • Feel free to add commentary if you so wish (e.g. explaining which decisions were most difficult and why you made them). Quotations are numbered for your convenience, both for that, and so that you can label your answers.
  • Have fun.

I really hope I don’t need to say this, but there is no right or wrong answer. In due course I will share the original passages, but those are not “solutions”. Appreciating the many different ways to punctuate the same text — each every bit as valid as the next — is far more interesting than trying to “guess” what the original author wrote.

And finally, here are the passages I have selected:

(1) Adults got involved only to the extent that some teachers carefully picked up any escapist rubbish the child was currently reading and dropped it in the bin there are still even now some of those around I believe a special circle of Hell is reserved for them of course fantasy is escapist most stories are so what teachers are not meant to be jailers.

(2) An hour later two men stood waiting at the river’s edge red headed brothers with rifles across their backs large men identical in every way standing close by each other not speaking each with huge chest and arms sleeves rolled up like two lumberjacks in a rustic play but these were not lumberjacks the pallor of their faces the close trim of their beards belied any suggestion of work and they wore fine black boots.

(3) And hold it there hold it there as the element scorches Dante’s nine rings right into your palm allowing you to grasp Hell in your hand forever let the heat engrave the skin the muscles the tendons let it smolder down to the bone wait for the burn to embed itself so far into you that you don’t know if you’ll ever be able to let go of that coil it won’t be long until the stench of your own burning flesh wafts up grabbing your nose hairs and refusing to let go and you smell your body burn.

(4) As instruction manuals they leave much to be desired the effective communication of basic game mechanics requires not just the ability to think logically and write simply which is obvious and can be perfected by practice but more importantly that of anticipating on the part of the learner elementary queries and misunderstandings about things that experts take for granted.

(5) Reading the Magna Carta the first time can be disappointing it is not a declaration of the rights of man it is rather a peace treaty between John and his barons based upon economics the common man had very little to do with it on second reading it becomes more interesting indeed a fascinating peek into the priorities of the barony of the period it also gives hints about some of John’s shortcomings as a king.

(6) The question of contact is an interesting one because it often happens that one of the audience comes forward to hold the hand of the singer at some high point in the song and will even emphasise either the rhythm of the song or an important sentiment by grasping the hand more firmly and moving it up and down one cannot help feeling on such occasions that this one person speaks for the whole audience and is conveying to the singer the sense of participation in the song that they all feel.

(7) Walking one afternoon through the grounds of St Edna’s in Rathfarnam I saw a small bridge with some people around it I asked a local who they were and was told they were heroin addicts who often met there to deal and get a fix the thought went through me like ice an absolute image of modern Ireland heroin addicts in Patrick Pearse’s school.

(Author credits: Terry Pratchett, Gil Adamson, Andrew Davidson, David Parlett, Irene Radford, Tomás Ó Canainn, Seán Dunne.)

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18 Responses to “Punctuation experiment rehearsal”

  1. Mark Noonan Says:

    Had a little fun here and there. It was interesting how you have to read ahead, sometimes quite far ahead, in order to understand what kind of punctuation might fit where. Which I guess shows how much punctuation guides your feeling of security in where you are in the sentence – and especially in what it sounds like. Then there’s ways to joke around with it, or be sarcastic about the writers by suggesting they’d do this or that. I’m sure I changed the meaning in the first one, and maybe others.

    Happy experimenting!

    (1) Adults got involved only to the extent that some teachers carefully picked up any escapist rubbish the child was currently reading and dropped it in the bin. There are still even now some of those around. I believe a special circle of Hell is reserved for them, of course. Fantasy is escapist — most stories are so. What teachers are not meant to be jailers?

    (2) An hour later two men stood waiting at the river’s edge. Red headed brothers with rifles across their backs, large men identical in every way. Standing close by each other not speaking, each with huge chest and arms, sleeves rolled up like two lumberjacks in a rustic play, but these were not lumberjacks. The pallor of their faces, the close trim of their beards belied any suggestion of work. And they wore fine black boots.

    (3) And hold it there. Hold it there as the element scorches Dante’s nine rings right into your palm, allowing you to grasp Hell in your hand forever. Let the heat engrave the skin, the muscles, the tendons, let it smolder down to the bone. Wait for the burn to embed itself so far into you that you don’t know if you’ll ever be able to let go of that coil. It won’t be long until the stench of your own burning flesh wafts up, grabbing your nose hairs and refusing to let go and you smell your body burn.

    (4) As instruction manuals, they leave much to be desired. The effective communication of basic game mechanics requires not just the ability to think logically and write simply — which is obvious and can be perfected by practice — but more importantly, that of anticipating on the part of the learner elementary queries and misunderstandings about things that “experts” take for granted.

    (5) Reading the Magna Carta the first time can be disappointing. It is not a declaration of the rights of man — it is rather a peace treaty between John and his barons based upon economics. The common man had very little to do with it. On second reading, it becomes more interesting. Indeed, a fascinating peek into the priorities of the barony of the period, it also gives hints about some of John’s shortcomings as a king.

    (6) The question of contact is an interesting one because it often happens that one of the audience comes forward to hold the hand of the singer at some high point in the song, and will even emphasise either the rhythm of the song or an important sentiment by grasping the hand more firmly and moving it up and down. One cannot help feeling on such occasions that this one person speaks for the whole audience and is conveying to the singer the sense of participation in the song that they all feel.

    (7) Walking one afternoon through the grounds of St Edna’s in Rathfarnam, I saw a small bridge with some people around it. I asked a local who they were and was told they were heroin addicts who often met there to deal and get a fix. The thought went through me like ice, an absolute image of modern Ireland heroin addicts in Patrick Pearse’s school.

  2. Flesh-eating Dragon Says:

    We have our first respondent! Thanks, Mark. :-)

    [Note that I don’t plan to reply to each individual commenter for this post, as I normally would. However, I may respond if someone raises an interesting point.]

    It didn’t occur to me that anyone might deliberately joke around with their answers, as you did for the first one. I’m not sure how I feel about that, but I guess it confirms that it’s worth having a rehearsal: when Stan conducts the experiment, he will be better prepared for the unexpected!

    Your decision to place “experts” in scare quotes for #4 is interesting. Of course, there are experts in basic game mechanics, and there are experts in their effective communication, and they are not necessarily the same people.

    (Incidentally, I have edited the post to indicate that there may be hyphens among the missing punctuation.)

  3. Duncan Waldron Says:

    As Mark Noonan said, you have to read ahead, to absorb as much of the potential meaning as possible, before starting to insert the punctuation. It brought to mind the need to read an exam question thoroughly, before attempting an answer. On a personal note, (4) struck a chord, as I once had to write the rules for a board game, so had an insight as to what was being said there.

    I was almost thrown by (1) “Of course fantasy is escapist”, and too quickly put a comma after “Of course”; I *think* I now have it right! I feel there is quite a bit of room for movement with both (3) and (5). That’s enough at this late hour; here’s my two penn’orth.

    (1) Adults got involved only to the extent that some teachers carefully picked up any escapist rubbish the child was currently reading, and dropped it in the bin. There are still—even now—some of those around; I believe a special circle of Hell is reserved for them. Of course fantasy is escapist, most stories are; so what? Teachers are not meant to be jailers.

    (3) And hold it there; hold it there, as the element scorches Dante’s nine rings right into your palm, allowing you to grasp Hell in your hand forever. Let the heat engrave the skin, the muscles, the tendons. Let it smolder down to the bone. Wait for the burn to embed itself so far into you that you don’t know if you’ll ever be able to let go of that coil; it won’t be long until the stench of your own burning flesh wafts up, grabbing your nose hairs and refusing to let go, and you smell your body burn.

    (4) As instruction manuals, they leave much to be desired. The effective communication of basic game mechanics requires not just the ability to think logically and write simply—which is obvious and can be perfected by practice—but more importantly, that of anticipating, on the part of the learner, elementary queries and misunderstandings about things that experts take for granted.

    (5) Reading the Magna Carta the first time can be disappointing. It is not a declaration of the rights of man; it is, rather, a peace treaty between John and his barons, based upon economics—the common man had very little to do with it. On second reading, it becomes more interesting—indeed, a fascinating peek into the priorities of the barony of the period. It also gives hints about some of John’s shortcomings as a king.

  4. Ravi Murugesan Says:

    (1) Adults got involved only to the extent that some teachers carefully picked up any escapist rubbish the child was currently reading and dropped it in the bin. There are still even now some of those around. I believe a special circle of Hell is reserved for them. Of course, fantasy is escapist—most stories are—so what? Teachers are not meant to be jailers.

    (2) An hour later two men stood waiting at the river’s edge: red-headed brothers with rifles across their backs, large men identical in every way, standing close by each other, not speaking, each with huge chest and arms, sleeves rolled up, like two lumberjacks in a rustic play. But these were not lumberjacks. The pallor of their faces, the close trim of their beards belied any suggestion of work. And they wore fine black boots.

    (3) And hold it there! Hold it there as the element scorches Dante’s nine rings right into your palm allowing you to grasp Hell in your hand forever! Let the heat engrave the skin the muscles the tendons. Let it smolder down to the bone! Wait for the burn to embed itself so far into you that you don’t know if you’ll ever be able to let go of that coil. It won’t be long until the stench of your own burning flesh wafts up grabbing your nose hairs and refusing to let go, and you smell your body burn.

    (4) As instruction manuals, they leave much to be desired. The effective communication of basic game mechanics requires not just the ability to think logically and write simply, which is obvious and can be perfected by practice, but—more importantly—that of anticipating, on the part of the learner, elementary queries and misunderstandings about things that experts take for granted.

    (5) Reading the Magna Carta the first time can be disappointing: it is not a declaration of the rights of man. It is rather a peace treaty between John and his barons based upon economics. The common man had very little to do with it. On second reading, it becomes more interesting indeed. A fascinating peek into the priorities of the barony of the period, it also gives hints about some of John’s shortcomings as a king.

    (6) The question of contact is an interesting one, because it often happens that one of the audience comes forward to hold the hand of the singer at some high point in the song and will even emphasise either the rhythm of the song or an important sentiment by grasping the hand more firmly and moving it up and down. One cannot help feeling on such occasions that this one person speaks for the whole audience and is conveying to the singer the sense of participation in the song that they all feel.

    (7) Walking one afternoon through the grounds of St Edna’s in Rathfarnam, I saw a small bridge with some people around it. I asked a local who they were and was told they were heroin addicts who often met there to deal and get a fix. The thought went through me like ice: an absolute image of modern Ireland—heroin addicts in Patrick Pearse’s school.

  5. Audrey Says:

    First one – I’m going to come back to these as time permits!
    1) Adults got involved only to the extent that some teachers carefully picked up any escapist rubbish the child was currently readin,g and dropped it in the bin. There are still, even now, some of those around. I believe a special circle of Hell is reserved for them; of course fantasy is escapist, most stories are. So what? Teachers are not meant to be jailers.

  6. Audrey Says:

    2) An hour later two men stood waiting at the river’s edge: red headed brothers, with rifles across their backs. Large men identical in every way, standing close by each other – not speaking – each with huge chest and arms; sleeves rolled up like two lumberjacks in a rustic play. But these were not lumberjacks. The pallor of their faces, the close trim of their beards, belied any suggestion of work, and they wore fine black boots.

  7. jb Says:

    Adults got involved only to the extent that some teachers carefully picked up any escapist rubbish the child was currently reading and dropped it in the bin. There are still, even now, some of those around (I believe a special circle of Hell is reserved for them). Of course fantasy is escapist! Most stories are! So what? Teachers are not meant to be jailers.

  8. Flesh-eating Dragon Says:

    I am thrilled with the responses so far. Thanks all, and keep ’em coming!

    I’ve been thinking about how long to wait before unveiling the original quotations, and what other information to share along with them. On the first question, I’m leaning toward the idea that the experiment should end after a certain amount of time goes by with no new responses submitted (a more flexible approach than ending it a set time after it began). On the second question, I think it would interest people to read a little about the context in which the quotes appear, and for the analysis I have some ideas for summarising the results in visually digestible ways to help people compare the responses with the original and with each other.

    Like Duncan, I’ve written rules for games. That quotation comes from the fifth chapter of David Parlett’s A History Of Card Games, which focuses on the history of card game rulebooks. The manuals he is talking about at that point were actually written in the seventeenth century.

    Audrey, I assume “readin,g” is supposed to be “reading,”.

  9. mark Says:

    Nice idea, and good choice of passages, too (I found them divertingly difficult). Reading through some of the comments above I see a few choices that, now, I would rather have taken. Nonetheless, here was my stab at it:

    (1) Adults got involved only to the extent that some teachers carefully picked up any escapist rubbish the child was currently reading and dropped it in the bin. There are still, even now, some of those around; I believe a special circle of Hell is reserved for them. Of course fantasy is escapist—most stories are! So what? Teachers are not meant to be jailers!

    (2) An hour later, two men stood waiting at the river’s edge: red-headed brothers with rifles across their backs. Large men, identical in every way, standing close by each other, not speaking; each with huge chest and arms, sleeves rolled up, like two lumberjacks in a rustic play. But these were not lumberjacks: the pallor of their faces, the close trim of their beards, belied any suggestion of work, and they wore fine black boots.

    (3) And hold it there, hold it there, as the element scorches Dante’s nine rings right into your palm, allowing you to grasp Hell in your hand forever. Let the heat engrave the skin, the muscles, the tendons! Let it smolder down to the bone! Wait for the burn to embed itself so far into you that you don’t know if you’ll ever be able to let go of that coil. It won’t be long until the stench of your own burning flesh wafts up, grabbing your nose hairs and refusing to let go, and you smell your body burn.

    (4) As instruction manuals, they leave much to be desired. The effective communication of basic game mechanics requires not just the ability to think logically and write simply — which is obvious and can be perfected by practice — but more importantly, that of anticipating on the part of the learner elementary queries and misunderstandings about things that experts take for granted.

    (5) Reading the Magna Carta the first time can be disappointing: it is not a declaration of the rights of man; it is rather a peace treaty between John and his barons based upon economics. The common man had very little to do with it. On second reading it becomes more interesting — indeed, a fascinating peek into the priorities of the barony of the period. It also gives hints about some of John’s shortcomings as a king.

    (6) The question of contact is an interesting one, because it often happens that one of the audience comes forward to hold the hand of the singer at some high point in the song, and will even emphasise either the rhythm of the song, or an important sentiment, by grasping the hand more firmly and moving it up and down. One cannot help feeling, on such occasions, that this one person speaks for the whole audience, and is conveying to the singer the sense of participation in the song that they all feel.

    (7) Walking one afternoon through the grounds of St Edna’s in Rathfarnam, I saw a small bridge with some people around it. I asked a local who they were, and was told they were heroin addicts, who often met there to deal and get a fix. The thought went through me like ice: an absolute image of modern Ireland, heroin addicts in Patrick Pearse’s school!

  10. Daibhid Ceannaideach (@daibhidc) Says:

    Having carefully not looked at the previous replies:

    (1) Adults got involved only to the extent that some teachers carefully picked up any escapist rubbish the child was currently reading and dropped it in the bin. There are still, even now, some of those around. I believe a special circle of Hell is reserved for them. Of course fantasy is escapist – most stories are. So what? Teachers are not meant to be jailers.

    (2) An hour later two men stood waiting at the river’s edge. Red headed brothers with rifles across their backs, large men identical in every way, standing close by each other, not speaking, each with huge chest and arms sleeves rolled up like two lumberjacks in a rustic play. But these were not lumberjacks; the pallor of their faces, the close trim of their beards, belied any suggestion of work and they wore fine black boots.

    (This was the hardest, I tried chopping every clause into a seperate sentence, using lots of semicolons, and even seperating everything with dashes. Nothing looked quite right, but sticking to basic commas looked less not right than anything else.)

    (3) And hold it there. Hold it there as the element scorches Dante’s nine rings right into your palm, allowing you to grasp Hell in your hand forever. Let the heat engrave the skin, the muscles, the tendons. Let it smolder down to the bone, wait for the burn to embed itself so far into you that you don’t know if you’ll ever be able to let go of that coil. It won’t be long until the stench of your own burning flesh wafts up, grabbing your nose hairs and refusing to let go, and you smell your body burn.

    (4) As instruction manuals they leave much to be desired: the effective communication of basic game mechanics requires not just the ability to think logically and write simply, which is obvious and can be perfected by practice, but more importantly that of anticipating on the part of the learner elementary queries and misunderstandings about things that experts take for granted.

    (5) Reading the Magna Carta the first time can be disappointing. It is not a declaration of the rights of man; it is rather a peace treaty between John and his barons based upon economics. The common man had very little to do with it. On second reading it becomes more interesting – indeed, a fascinating peek into the priorities of the barony of the period. It also gives hints about some of John’s shortcomings as a king.

    (6) The question of contact is an interesting one because it often happens that one of the audience comes forward to hold the hand of the singer at some high point in the song and will even emphasise either the rhythm of the song or an important sentiment by grasping the hand more firmly and moving it up and down, One cannot help feeling on such occasions that this one person speaks for the whole audience and is conveying to the singer the sense of participation in the song that they all feel.

    (I feel like there should be some commas in there somewhere, but I can’t see where.)

    (7) Walking one afternoon through the grounds of St Edna’s in Rathfarnam, I saw a small bridge with some people around it. I asked a local who they were and was told they were heroin addicts who often met there to deal and get a fix. The thought went through me like ice. An absolute image of modern Ireland: heroin addicts in Patrick Pearse’s school.

  11. Daibhid Ceannaideach (@daibhidc) Says:

    Just noticed that in the phrase “I feel like there should be some commas in there somewhere, but I can’t see where”, I use a comma before a conjunction, even though my problem with the passage itself was that I refused to do that. So that’s interesting.

  12. Flesh-eating Dragon Says:

    Hi, Daibhid — there’s nothing wrong with a comma before a conjunction, and I think you’ve just proved to yourself why sometimes you really need one! It’s a natural break in the sentence, and indicating those is a big part of what punctuation is for. You can hear the comma in your voice when you read it to yourself.

    (BTW, I’m going to assume the comma after “up and down” is a typo for a full stop.)

  13. markthomasnoonan Says:

    Reading some of the others shows I lack something in attention to detail, and there’s definitely places I’d do things a little differently. There seems to be general agreement on where most pauses belong, but various means of placing them with greater or lesser impact person to person. Semicolon, em dash, comma, exclamation mark, and full stop. All with different levels of urgency. I’m really interested in how the pauses are defined in the original texts, and what the different reading results are.

    A good experiment, I think. Makes me self-conscious about it.

  14. Daibhid Ceannaideach (@daibhidc) Says:

    Whoops! Yeah, that should be a full stop.

    Looking back, I suspect I may have been too impatient; trying to work out where the punctuation went before I’d fully grasped the meaning. In that situation, “how it sounds when you read it” doesn’t apply, and even a descriptivist like myself falls back on prescriptivist rules I normally ignore.

  15. laumerritt Says:

    (1) Adults got involved, only to the extent that some teachers carefully picked up any escapist rubbish the child was currently reading and dropped it in the bin. There are still –even now– some of those around. I believe a special circle of Hell is reserved for them. Of course fantasy is escapist; most stories are so. What teachers are not meant to be? Jailers.

    (2) An hour later two men stood waiting at the river’s edge. Red headed brothers with rifles across their backs, large men identical in every way, standing close by each other, not speaking. Each with huge chest and arms sleeves rolled up like two lumberjacks in a rustic play. But these were not lumberjacks; the pallor of their faces, the close trim of their beards, belied any suggestion of work. And they wore fine black boots!

    (3) And hold it there, hold it there as the element scorches Dante’s nine rings right into your palm, allowing you to grasp Hell in your hand forever. Let the heat engrave the skin, the muscles, the tendons. Let it smolder down to the bone. Wait for the burn to embed itself so far into you that you don’t know if you’ll ever be able to let go of that coil. It won’t be long until the stench of your own burning flesh wafts up, grabbing your nose hairs and refusing to let go and you smell your body burn.

    (4) As instruction manuals they leave much to be desired. The effective communication of basic game mechanics requires not just the ability to think logically and write simply –which is obvious and can be perfected by practice– but more importantly that of anticipating on the part of the learner elementary queries and misunderstandings about things that experts take for granted.

    (5) Reading the Magna Carta the first time can be disappointing. It is not a declaration of the rights of man, it is rather a peace treaty between John and his barons based upon economics; the common man had very little to do with it. On second reading it becomes more interesting; indeed, a fascinating peek into the priorities of the barony of the period. It also gives hints about some of John’s shortcomings as a king.

    (6) The question of contact is an interesting one because it often happens that one of the audience comes forward to hold the hand of the singer at some high point in the song and will even emphasise either the rhythm of the song or an important sentiment by grasping the hand more firmly and moving it up and down. One cannot help feeling on such occasions that this one person speaks for the whole audience and is conveying to the singer the sense of participation in the song that they all feel.

    (7) Walking one afternoon through the grounds of St Edna’s, in Rathfarnam, I saw a small bridge with some people around it. I asked a local who they were and was told they were heroin addicts who often met there to deal and get a fix. The thought went through me like ice: an absolute image of modern Ireland – heroin addicts in Patrick Pearse’s school.

  16. Flesh-eating Dragon Says:

    Daibhid, maybe I should have put “take your time” in the instructions! (I did say “when you’re satisfied“.) :-)

  17. Stan Says:

    This was fun — thanks, Adrian! If I were to punctuate the same passages again in a few weeks’ time, it’s likely my results would be slightly different. Sometimes there’s very little to choose between a pair of commas and a pair of dashes, for example, or between a semicolon and a full stop.

    After I post this comment I’m going to enjoy reading the others. There seems to have been a good response so far. I’d say it’s not so much a rehearsal to an experiment as an experiment in its own right, or part 1 of a potential series.

    (1) Adults got involved only to the extent that some teachers carefully picked up any escapist rubbish the child was currently reading and dropped it in the bin. There are still, even now, some of those around; I believe a special circle of Hell is reserved for them. Of course fantasy is escapist — most stories are. So what? Teachers are not meant to be jailers.

    (2) An hour later, two men stood waiting at the river’s edge. Red-headed brothers with rifles across their backs; large men, identical in every way, standing close by each other, not speaking, each with huge chest and arms, sleeves rolled up like two lumberjacks in a rustic play. But these were not lumberjacks: the pallor of their faces, the close trim of their beards belied any suggestion of work, and they wore fine black boots.

    (3) And hold it there, hold it there as the element scorches Dante’s nine rings right into your palm, allowing you to grasp Hell in your hand forever. Let the heat engrave the skin, the muscles, the tendons. Let it smolder down to the bone. Wait for the burn to embed itself so far into you that you don’t know if you’ll ever be able to let go of that coil. It won’t be long until the stench of your own burning flesh wafts up, grabbing your nose hairs and refusing to let go, and you smell your body burn.

    (4) As instruction manuals they leave much to be desired. The effective communication of basic game mechanics requires not just the ability to think logically and write simply, which is obvious and can be perfected by practice, but more importantly that of anticipating on the part of the learner elementary queries and misunderstandings about things that experts take for granted.

    (5) Reading the Magna Carta the first time can be disappointing. It is not a declaration of the rights of man; it is rather a peace treaty between John and his barons based upon economics. The common man had very little to do with it. On second reading it becomes more interesting, indeed a fascinating peek into the priorities of the barony of the period. It also gives hints about some of John’s shortcomings as a king.

    (6) The question of contact is an interesting one, because it often happens that one of the audience comes forward to hold the hand of the singer at some high point in the song, and will even emphasise either the rhythm of the song or an important sentiment by grasping the hand more firmly and moving it up and down. One cannot help feeling on such occasions that this one person speaks for the whole audience, and is conveying to the singer the sense of participation in the song that they all feel.

    (7) Walking one afternoon through the grounds of St Edna’s in Rathfarnam, I saw a small bridge with some people around it. I asked a local who they were and was told they were heroin addicts who often met there to deal and get a fix. The thought went through me like ice. An absolute image of modern Ireland: heroin addicts in Patrick Pearse’s school.

  18. Flesh-eating Dragon Says:

    Thanks to everyone for your contributions, and special thanks to Stan for the publicity. I got more responses than I dared dream of, and I really appreciate them all.

    This marks an end to the experiment. There will never come a time when further submissions are unwelcome, but I’m about to start writing up the results. Obviously, submissions recieved from now on will not be included in that.


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