Joseph Checkler over at the Wall Street Journal reported on the potential hidden costs of punctuation, when he described a lemon law case involving the Chrysler bankruptcy. Checkler reports that, the controversy revolves around the placement of a comma. Did Chrysler accept liability for lemons “resolved pre-petition, or in the future, on vehicles” manufactured five years prior to bankruptcy filing? Or did it accept liability for lemons “resolved pre-petition or in the future, on vehicles” manufactured five years prior to bankruptcy? If it’s the later, Chrysler is off the hook for paying claims made prior to bankruptcy. If it’s the former, Chrysler is liable.
When typesetting was done manually, letters were inserted backwards. Thus, typesetters were told to “mind your p’s and q’s,” because the two letters could be easily confused. Clearly, it’s now time to mind your commas.