P.9: Comma needed before "called GNOME"

Bug #584964 reported by Marc Stewart on 2010-05-24
This bug affects 1 person
Affects Status Importance Assigned to Milestone
Ubuntu Manual
Kevin Godby

Bug Description

Rev. 788
Prologue: What is Linux? section (p.9, PDF p.11)
Type: grammar

Final sentence needs a comma:
"and uses one of the more popular graphical desktop environments[,] called GNOME."
Without it the sentence suggests that there are several desktop environments called GNOME; ignoring versions, there's only one, isn't there?

Kevin Godby (godbyk) on 2010-05-24
Changed in ubuntu-manual:
assignee: nobody → Kevin Godby (godbyk)
status: New → In Progress
milestone: none → edition-2
Kevin Godby (godbyk) wrote :

There's no need for a comma there.

Changed in ubuntu-manual:
status: In Progress → Invalid
Marc Stewart (marc.stewart) wrote :

You may understand it perfectly well, but to some readers it's ambiguous. Adding the comma also helps it to be parsed correctly by machine translators, used by readers who do not have a version of the manual in their native language.

Unless the meaning is:
There are several popular DEs called GNOME; Ubuntu uses one of them
rather than
Ubuntu uses a popular DE; it's called GNOME
adding that comma has more pros than cons.

Kevin Godby (godbyk) wrote :

While there may be a readability issue, using a comma is grammatically incorrect. GNOME is a restrictive appositive in this sentence. There are multiple 'more popular graphical desktop environments', so specifying GNOME by name further restricts the scope. If the phrase had been 'the most popular graphical desktop environment', then you could use a comma because specifying the name doesn't further restrict the scope.

As to the readability: The sentence could be rephrased:

"Ubuntu is just one of many different Linux distributions and uses GNOME, one of the more popular graphical desktop environments."

(In this case, the comma is necessary because the phrase 'one of the more popular graphical desktop environments' is nonrestrictive—that is, it doesn't further limit the scope (as GNOME is as specific as we can get); it just provides ancillary information.)

If you prefer the rewritten sentence or have a different suggestion for rewriting the sentence, reopen this bug and let me know.


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