The Cautionary Tale of Polly Proposition

With apologies to the anonymous author of “Impure Mathematics.”


One day Polly Proposition went out without her context. Suddenly a grammarian leapt out from an alley! “Hey, baby,” he leered, “I’d like to split your infinitive.”

Polly feared he was a serial comma. Feeling tense, she tried to dash away, but the brute caught her.

He removed her parentheses and every article she wore, and told her, “At first I wasn’t sure what gerund you are; I thought you might have been a transitive. But now I see you have a nice figure of speech.” She hoped he was neuter, until she saw his participle dangling right in front of her. But it wasn’t dangling for long; it quickly became like irony at the cite of her.

“Please, sir, I’ve never been inflected, and–”

“Don’t be so demonstrative!” he said. He bent her over a table of contents and made her give him headings. Polly couldn’t believe he made her do verbal! Then he explored her cleft sentence until he exclaimed a large amount of pleonasm.

When he was done he said he was passive voice and he wanted Polly to dominate him, to treat him like her subordinate clause, but she told him she was a nonrestrictive modifier.

Angered, he put her in an inverted position until she was totally redundant, and she felt him in her semicolon. She protested, but he ignored her and plunged into her Deep Grammar. He diagrammed her until he achieved conjunction. After he interjected Polly ran home.

“He totally treated me like a direct object!” she said to her friend Penny Preposition. “I didn’t mean to be naughty… it’s just that my boyfriend, Oxford, is so pronominally possessive. Oh, I’m such an idiolect for going out singular!”

“Poor thing,” Penny sympathized. “Had you ever done that before?”

“No,” said Polly. “He’s the first person! And not only that… He back-channeled me!”

“Oh! You mean he used your assonance?”

“Yes! But that’s not the worst,” Polly sobbed. “He didn’t just take me. In fact, he took me… out of context!” And she broke down in tears.

“You can have him arrested,” Penny said. “Do you know where he lives?”

“It’s indefinite,” Polly wept. “If only he’d been a homophone,” she added.

A few days later Polly missed her period. “Something’s implicit within me!” she bemoaned to Penny.

“Are you sure?”

“Appositive.”

Nine months later Polly started experiencing contractions, and she soon gave rise to a large set of unintended implications.

The moral of the story:

Don’t be an oxymoron: Never leave your context without your brackets, or your future could be imperfect and for your wayward ways, you’ll pay a syntax.

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