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OK, Paolo, this is it are you with them, or are you with us. (Clue: there's more of us than them.)

It is TO no avail to throw population statistics at me.

(Anyway, if you do, I'm sure that one of THEM will just throw "rabbits" and "breeding" at you - they LOVE to talk about breeding ;-)

I also live on the American continent, albeit "down below".

The problem is that my English language education was heavily-slanted towards Br.E but I promise to try.
It will now become the centre of my language labours, I mean, the center of my language labors.
Has that gotten me off the hook?

Paulo
now playing: Joan Baez - Amazing Grace
First of all, (2) and (3) are right out because ... commaless stretch of "white and blue and green and yellow".

I would seriously consider putting a semicolon after "blue": The two flags were red, white, and blue; and green and yellow.

That's not bad, and I thought about it for a while but decided against it for reasons I'll detail below.
The version with the comma after "blue" is okay except that it may take a reader a few milliseconds to understand for sure the intended meaning.[/nq]That's true. However, I think a semicolon implied a much heavier break than is usually present between two items in coordination. When you've got three items in coordination ("striped, checked, and plaid") they're usually separated by commas, but when the three are long and comma-heavy themselves ("red, white, and blue; green and yellow; and orange, black, pink, and grey") the original commas are promoted to semicolons. But when you've got two items in coordination ("striped and checked") there is normally no comma between them.

So, the way I look at it, the analogue of promoting a comma to a semicolon in the case of three items is replacing a blank with a comma in the case of two items. This does have the disadvantage you note above, but if I use a semicolon it seems to be "promoting" the blank by two orders of magnitude instead of one, and I find myself expecting a new sentence to begin.
-Aaron J. Dinkin
Dr. Whom
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OK, Paolo, this is it are you with them, or are you with us. (Clue: there's more of us than them.)

It is TO no avail to throw population statistics at me. (Anyway, if you do, I'm sure that one of ... centre of my language labours, I mean, the center of my language labors. Has that gotten me off the hook?

It is with the greatest of pleasure that I inform you of your acceptance to the group of speakers of the English language as it is spoken on the left shores of the Atlantic Ocean.
Wear your cloak of acceptance with pride! (Don't listen to the traitors on the right coast of the pond who are devoluting the language of their forefathers who spoke the true English. Harrumph!)
Skitt (in Hayward, California)
www.geocities.com/opus731/
"It is to no avail." Things are "to", not "of", no avail.

Is that an extra comma I espy? (The one after "of".)

I don't think so. If there were no comma after "of", I'd have written

Things are "to", not "of" no avail.
, which to me makes "'to'" parallel with "'of' no avail", rather than with "'of'" as is desired. In other words, in the sentence I wrote, the choice is between "to no avail" and "of no avail"; in the version with the comma omitted, the choice is between {"to"} and {"of" no avail}.

-Aaron J. Dinkin
Dr. Whom
OK, my head is spinning, but isn't the original analogous to "I want soup, not worms to eat"?
That is what I would write, especially since I have been beaten about the head and shoulders for my excessive use of commas, caused by my misguided European (not BrE) schooling.

Skitt (in Hayward, California)
www.geocities.com/opus731/
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I don't think so. If there were no comma after ... omitted, the choice is between {"to"} and {"of" no avail}.

OK, my head is spinning, but isn't the original analogous to "I want soup, not worms to eat"? That is ... beaten about the head and shoulders for my excessive use of commas, caused by my misguided European (not BrE) schooling.

And I would write "I want soup, not worms, to eat." Again, the way you wrote it doesn't leave with the reading 'I want soup to eat,' just 'I want soup.'
-Aaron J. Dinkin
Dr. Whom
OK, my head is spinning, but isn't the original analogous ... of commas, caused by my misguided European (not BrE) schooling.

And I would write "I want soup, not worms, to eat." Again, the way you wrote it doesn't leave with the reading 'I want soup to eat,' just 'I want soup.'

I see what you're saying. I'm not sure that I agree, but then, I'm not an expert on punctuation, yet, who is, especially since there are no set-in-stone rules for it in English. I do what it feels like for me to do. I think I punctuate passably, but who's to say different, and what Rosetta stone would he show me to prove me wrong?

Skitt (in Hayward, California)
www.geocities.com/opus731/
I know that I'm inviting all sorts of flak here, but just seeing the AOL part of a sender's address ... has a lot to learn, as obvious from his posts. He has chutzpah, of course; oh yeah, that he has!

Oi! AOL is my current choice because it's the cheapest 24/7 dial-up in my area. People who rubbish it usually haven't got a clue about what's provided.
If you were able to read headers you'd realise how I access this ng.

Paul
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Oi! AOL is my current choice because it's the cheapest 24/7 dial-up in my area. People who rubbish it usually haven't got a clue about what's provided. If you were able to read headers you'd realise how I access this ng.

What is it that I wrote that made you think that I can't read your headers?

BTW, why do you use the BrE spelling of "realize"? Are you here or there?
Skitt (in Hayward, California)
www.geocities.com/opus731/
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