Serial comma ish

I wanna have the serial comma off 99% of the time, but during one action, I want it on… then turn it off again after that action. But it doesn’t seem to be a thing you can turn on or off. Any info on how to do this?

I suppose you could write a custom activity rule that applies just for purposes of the one situation, but it seems like it would be an awful lot of work.

Robert Rothman

I expect that’s the only way.

Really? Yeesh!

Probably an easier way is to hack the name of the thing that’s causing me to want to do this, for the duration of the action in question.

I temporarily have one character stand in for two. IE John’s name appears to be ‘John and the dog.’ In a list without a serial comma, this can result in lines like ‘Down there you see John and the dog and Janette, dressed as a clown.’ (When Janette’s description is ‘Janette, dressed as a clown’) which looked weird to me whenever I encountered it. Though staring at it a bunch now, it’s bothering me less than ever. Maybe the prospect of annoying work is making me think that. Or maybe it really isn’t worth mucking with at all. But I can say - it bugged me every time I saw it over months of testing.

I agree it does look kind of strange – but then again, “'Down there you see John and the dog, and Janette, dressed as a clown” also looks a bit odd. What about making the printed names “John (and the dog)” and “Janette (dressed as a clown)” respectively, thereby avoiding comma issues altogether?

Robert Rothman

This is pretty much a no-parentheses game. I’ll just have to agonise over my solution myself :slight_smile:

You might be able to do some activity-hacking on this order:

For printing the name of John while some-manner-of-listing: if John-is-listed-last, say "John, and the dog"; otherwise say "John, the dog"

Thanks for the idea. Yeah I was looking at hacking their group name, but changing the order is probably a better idea.

Right, so my fix was this - I stopped turning John’s description into ‘john and the dog’ and used the dog itself (previously I stopped animals being mentioned in the list). When I create the list of people to be mentioned, if john and the dog are in it, I pull them out and put them last, though keeping them together. This way they always get a comma before them, but never between them.

Isn’t there a “group together in listing” option? Or does that only work for things of the same kind?

I don’t see one in skim-reading, or by searching for ‘group together’ in docs.l

Chapter 17.13, 17.14

I’m not sure of the compatibility of that approach?

I generate a list by going through the people and creatures in the target room one at a time and assessing whether I want them to appear in this special view. Then I perform a bunch of actions on each item in the list, including making a special view description.

Ultimately, if I want these guys to stick together at such a moment, and be listed last, I’m going to have to manually add them to the end of the list. And when I do that, I get to group them anyway by saying ‘add { John, dog } at entry P in F’. (where P is a number and F is the list)

I think you’re right. As far as I can tell the grouping together activity only runs from within the standard listing contents activity; that would mean that if you’re defining a custom list none of these activities will be relevant to you (at least not by default).