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Song Parodies -> "Punctuate"

Original Song Title:


Original Performer:

The Beatles

Parody Song Title:


Parody Written by:

Tommy Turtle

The Lyrics

This guide to colons, semicolons, and parentheses was written in response to popular demand. OK, actually only Red Ant demanded it, but he's an editor here, so his demands are popular as far as I'm concerned. Besides, he asked nicely, and twice within the past week or so. Written rather hurriedly in response to his request today; corrections from genuine grammar geeks, which I'm not, are most welcome.
Colon: "See,
"Please examine that which follows me"
Such as thoughts or lists: "A, B, C, D"
It shows sequent-

P'renthesis (1)
Means "Another thought's inside of this"
Interrupt yourself? Don't be remiss
Explain in these

Like... so: "George (the First)
"Was accursed by his (dim) son" [2]
Clar... i.... fy all doubt
Close it out: ) when you are done!

Here's a hint:
Got a thought that's slightly different?
Not enough for sentence separate
But linked up with
Preceding print? --

-- Se-mi...colon trick:
"I was sick; I couldn't work"
If... you.. "comma" here,
You'll appear
Like such a jerk! [3]

That it takes the place of "but" or "and"
Semicolon is at your command
No comma there;
It should be banned

And now your writing won't be bland....

[1] Singular: parenthesis; plural: parentheses. The square ones [ ] are brackets.
[2] This sentence didn't really need the parentheses; they were used to illustrate how a writer might have a thought, then decide she needed to clarify for the reader exactly which George (the first one) and which son (the dim one). A really involved example, or a parenthetical full sentence (they could be several sentences or even a parenthetical paragraph, but be judicious) would be hard to fit into the parody, but I just made one in this sentence.
[3] Commonly seen these days: "I was sick, I couldn't work." Totally Illiterate. Mario Puzo's novel "The Godfather" did this constantly, but do you really want to sound like an immigrant gangster? You have only two thoughts there, so your options are:
a) A period (or full stop, as the Brits say): "I was sick. I couldn't work."
b) A semicolon, as in the example;
c) A conjunction, such as "and", "but", "so", etc.: "I was sick, so I couldn't work."

If you had three or more thoughts that were connected enough that you didn't want to make three sentences, you could use commas and a final "and" to join them: "I had the flu, it was snowing, and the Super Bowl was on." Leaving out the final "and" in this list and using only commas ("I had the flu, it was snowing, the Super Bowl was on") sounds like mental diarrhea. Quit running on and finish it up!

Colons, semicolons, and parentheses are disappearing because people don't know how or where to use them, so any time some sort of mark seems called for, they just throw in a comma. Cell text messages, IMs, and short attention spans don't help, either.

© 2007 Tommy Turtle.

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Original Song: 
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Voting Results

Pacing: 5.0
How Funny: 4.9
Overall Rating: 5.0

Total Votes: 17

Voting Breakdown

The following represent how many people voted for each category.

    Pacing How Funny Overall Rating
 1   0
 2   0
 3   0
 4   0
 5   17

User Comments

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Adagio - January 03, 2007 - Report this comment
Must have taken a lot of research. I hope you used waterproof books. And this took a lot of ........thought. 5's, although I could tell where you interupted yourself, I couldn't get back to the song, but that's me.
Rex - January 03, 2007 - Report this comment
People who don't know how to use colons or semicolons need a colonoscopy.
Phil Alexander - January 03, 2007 - Report this comment
What I thought was this: not bad (really rather good, actually); and very accurate.
Ravyn Rant - January 03, 2007 - Report this comment
Kudos from a former English major. 555
Yoidy - January 03, 2007 - Report this comment
Can't rate you right now, too busy reading these grammar rules and regulations. Ahh here ya go, 555
alvin rhodes - January 03, 2007 - Report this comment
i wish you had been my english teacher...this rocks
Michael Pacholek - January 03, 2007 - Report this comment
Victor Borge would have approved!!!!! And so do I!!!!! (Count the exclamation points!!!!!)
Grammar Police - January 03, 2007 - Report this comment
Good points all. Other continual grammatical (and other) gaffes seen these days: leaving out required commas before coordinating conjunctions between independent clauses yet inserting them before CCs that merely connect verbs relating to the same subject.; leaving out commas in direct address; misuse of commas with restrictive and nonrestrictive elements; dangling participles and misplaced modifiers; solecisms; unorthodox orthography....
Ann Hammond - January 03, 2007 - Report this comment
what alvin said
Tommy Turtle - January 03, 2007 - Report this comment
Adagio, thanks

Rex: good one! -- thanks.

Phil Alexander: Hadn't seen you in a while, and was hoping you would see this, as it's a topic near and dear to both of our hearts.... Great comment/illustration of it all, and approval from one of your obvious knowledge of the topic means a lot :)

Ravyn Rant: DK you were an English major; as with Phil, special thanks for seal of approval.

Yoidy, thanks!

alvin rhides and Ann Hammond: Thanks -- I wish I had had teachers like this also, instead of... Glad you both found it interesting.

Michael Pacholek: Thanks!!!!!

Grammar Police: Always scary to see a cop in one's rear-view mirror, and always a relief when (s)he drives on without having been busted :) ... I agree with you on the other errors you mentioned (I think, LOL), especially misplaced modifiers... All of us here are very much looking forward to your parody, "Commasarerequiredbetweenindependentclauses" (to the tune of "Supercal...")... Thanks for vote and comments :)
Lynne Truss's Agent - January 03, 2007 - Report this comment
These issues are explored in more detail, but equally lightheartedly, in my book, "Eats, Shoots, and Leaves" ht*tp://, which Mr. Turtle has been kind enough to have recommended previously: ht*tp://

Although­ "The New Yorker" magazine took issue with some of what I said, many readers found it a fun way to help absorb these principles of usage.
malcolm higgins - January 03, 2007 - Report this comment
all five's was this right??? well thought out
MasonR - January 03, 2007 - Report this comment
Well done; no pause, I give applause. (Hey, have you ever thought of a career in editing?)
Grammar Police - January 03, 2007 - Report this comment
Unfortunately, "Eats, Shoots. . ." has more than a reasonable number of errors, given the subject matter.
Agrimorfee - January 03, 2007 - Report this comment
I'm an editor of sorts at the job...(and I piss people off when I point out their mistekes). Oh well. :) A well writtten and well-annnottatid work. 555
PMS - January 03, 2007 - Report this comment
I never could punctuate right. I find this a very helpful and entertaining guide.
Tommy Turtle - January 03, 2007 - Report this comment
Lynne Truss and Grammar Police: Unfortunately, I agree with Grammar Police. However, I think also that for those who would otherwise never pick up a book on grammar or punctuation (which is most people), "Eats..." is better than nothing, might get folks interested enough to learn more about the subject, and has hilarious examples (including the title itself) to prove definitely that "punctuation matters". Some of those examples are cited in the discussion at Red Ant's parody, "If You're Anal and You Know It (Leave Us Spam!)", whose URL was cited by Ms. Truss's agent:
Red Ant said there that these "got (him) thinking" about the topic, and that is a good thing.

Unorthodox: OK, but can you write correctly elsewhere? Some apparently can't, as Leet-speak seems to be spreading into other communications. (This site's submission guidelines prohibit it, and that's good.)

MasonR, funny you should mention that... I perforce do a good bit of proofreading and editing of other people's work (and my own, although that's much harder) in the course of administering the vast Turtle Enterprises, Inc. global empire. (lol -- Donald Trump is quivering in fear! ha!) I discovered that this was necessary when an attorney who was being paid good money to prepare a document prepared it to read: "Thirty Dollars and No Cents", instead of "Thirty Thousand Dollars and No Cents". As I told him at the time, "What's $29,970.00 between friends?" Much smaller errors, which would be inconsequential in ordinary speech or writing, can have huge repercussions in business/legal documents, as attorneys argue in court over the meaning of the placing, use, or lack of a comma, colon, or singe word such as "and", "or", etc. (I'll spare you examples.) Perhaps that's why I'm a habitual proofreader/editor. It's always more of an incentive when a mistake might come out of your own pocket.

I have in fact done a tiny bit of editing, on a volunteer basis, for Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia. ww* I would do more if time permitted, and if writing and reading parodies weren't more fun :) Oh, well, Wikipedia's loss is AmIRight's gain, hahaha.

Agrimorfee: Why am I not surprised at either? lol... I too have to try to be constructive and not negative. Thanks fore you're votes and commments.

PMS: Thanks, and you're very welcome :)
AFW - January 03, 2007 - Report this comment
This put me in such a comma, I don't think I'll ever come around..Very clever and instructive..I always hated grammar, and not all that crazy about grampa, either
John Jenkins - January 03, 2007 - Report this comment
A clever parody, but I question the content of note [2]. George I, who ruled Britain from 1714 to 1727, would have been very proud of his only son, George II, who ruled from 1727 to 1760. At least the son learned to speak English, which George I, born and raised in Germany, never did.
Tommy Turtle - January 03, 2007 - Report this comment
AFW, thanks... nice pun.

John Jenkins, you are kidding, right??? On the very slight chance that you're not (e. g., that you live on Mars), "George I" ... oh hell, you're kidding. :) Thanks for comment. AGRIMORFEE: I just saw (by accident!) your tribuTTe of last May... Flabbergasted!!! So sorry to have missed it; wish someone had told me... left comments there... Anything else (coughlikeothertributescough) I missed?
Red Ant - January 03, 2007 - Report this comment
Great work here, Tommy Turtle! (I think I got that comma right, and maybe these parentheses as well.) Regarding your [3] footnote, I'm fairly good at using conjunctions correctly (or, at least using them at all! (hey, was that exclamation mark supposed to go inside or outside the parentheses? What about that ques... nevermind!)). This comment is getting too involved now; I've a headache.

After our 'feminine' exchange "yesterday", (are the quote marks right indicating general quoting and a pun on TOS name?) I was wondering something: have you seen Claude Prez's "Menstruate" to this song? If not, you ought to check it out. Now, I'm going to crawl into a hole before you dissect my comment!
Red Ant - January 03, 2007 - Report this comment
PS: What are the { } (squiggly brackets) used for? <--- Improperly constructed sentence, but I'm too tired to word it correctly. ;)
TT - January 04, 2007 - Report this comment
Red Ant, first paragraph showed 100% absorption -- proud of you, no ragging, and pleased to have "made a difference" :) ? and ! should be glued to the phrase which they question or exclaim, as you did. Grammar Police guy/gal would probably say that in "or, at least using them at all!" there should be either no comma after "or", or else a matching comma after "at least": "or at least using them at all!", or "or, at least, using them at all". You'll have to ask GP the precise wording of the rules about setting off an independent/subordinate/whatever clause like "at least", because now that the holidays are over, I've worked all day and into the night and have a headache, but I do know that setting off a conjunction such as "or", "but", or "and" by itself with a comma is frowned upon as sort of leaving it an orphan. Two commas "or, at least, using..." makes it clear that you are setting off "at least" from the rest of the phrase (sort of pausing or changing your tone of voice if you were speaking).

Probably should be double quote marks around "feminine" like those on "yesterday". Single quotes are for when you're already inside a double quote. "My favorite song is 'Menstruate'", said Red Ant. Avoids having two identical marks (double quotes) in a row. I looked at Claude Prez's song just now and he indeed has some great lines. If only someone would insert tampons into a parody... ht*tp://

{ } -- Nothing in common writing of which I'm aware; perhaps in complex mathematical formulae, and some forms of Web markup language use them instead of angle brackets > or
When an editor changed a sentence by Winston Churchill to conform to this rule, Churchill replied, "This is nonsense up with which I will not put." (many wording variations on this story). Shows how ridiculous it can get.

A new student at Harvard asked a senior, "Where is the library at?"
The senior replied, "My good man, at Harvard we do not end a sentence with a preposition."
The freshman said, "OK. Where is the library at, a**h***?

Thanks for VC and for your interest in the topic. I think of it as in playing a game, or in life -- avoids misunderstandings if everyone plays by the same rules :)
Below Average Dave - January 04, 2007 - Report this comment
I'm just glad you didn't direct a parody at my. . .uh. . .lack of use of the subjects you've sent me too. . .LOL, anyhow, nice job here, 555 as usual, and am working on next set, still two more from Project 2, but holding out for a few days to space my parodies to fill the gap while I prepare for Project 3 and the AmIRight Ages plus my Below Average Dave Parody Network that I'm starting for parody recordings. . .
TT - January 04, 2007 - Report this comment
Red Ant: I knew I shouldn't have used that second angle bracket. The HTML editor saw that and ate some of what followed. It was to the effect that your question wasn't improperly phrased for all but extremely formal speech, and the "ending preposition" rule can get ridiculous at times. Then followed the two jokes about that rule. Sorry.

Below Average Dave: Red Ant and I have been discussing grammar, punctuation, etc. for a long time, and he requested this parody (and a lot of the critiques from moi). He knows that I rag on him only because I like him, because I respect him, and because I think he's worth it.... Come to think of it, I've ragged on you too a lot, haven't I? :) ... Thanks for votes and comments.
Stuart McArthur - January 24, 2007 - Report this comment
I feel quite safe (and smug) in saying that nobody else could have written this - it is a classic set-piece from the great quadripedant - 555
TT - January 25, 2007 - Report this comment
Stuart McArthur, thanks, and glad to see ya again!
Andy Primus - November 16, 2009 - Report this comment
Phew! Finally used your link to see this one after a very busy month with no hobby time. Great job & helpful (entertained & instructed)

That's the link to my JAB trib (with a verse for you in it) that you wanted to see. It overruns the song by 4 verses but I doubt you'll know the OS anyway. It began as JAB, Alvin got added half way through, then I thought I'd add a bunch of my fave writers but had by then run out of song.
Tommy Turtle - November 19, 2009 - Report this comment
Andy Primus: Your absence was noted, and your presence missed, by many here. All work and no play --- glad to see you back!

Thanks for following this link, and for the v/c. Will check yours out in a little bit (with a little bit of luck, lol!). :)

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