Commas change meaning

Commas may or may not save lives, but they definitely change meaning. 

A Facebook friend posted (strong language warning):

Facebook needs the relationship status “Been there, done that, no fucking thank you”.

I asked if there should be a comma before thank. My friend, possibly mistaking my intention, replied “nope, fucking is used to emphasize the no thank you”. Possibly I knew that already.

With the comma, no, thank you refers to literal fucking. Without it, no intensifying fucking thank you refers to going there and doing that, wherever and whatever there and that are.

PS Batchman’s comment reminded me in a roundabout way of an instance of the difference between the intensifying and literal uses of fucking in the movie Fame (1980). One of the characters is an aspiring stand-up comedian. He appears twice at the comedy club Catch a Rising Star, the first time successfully and the second time disastrously.* His friends suggest going for pizza. He says “I died out there and you’re talking about fucking pizza?!” One replies “No, I’m talking about eating pizza”. (I’d rather not think too much about fucking pizza, but each to his own taste (<haha!).)

(PPS I first typed distasterously and got a red underline. In fact, I still get one here. I’m not the only person on the internet to have spelled it like that.)


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