OK, I Know This Is Crazy But…Surrender Dorothy Has No Comma, and I Care

You have seen this, I know you have:


Maybe you have been terribly deprived and only know it as a meme. Or maybe you are, like me, so deeply steeped in the movie that when you see that image, you actually hear the weird music they play when they show the cackling witch spelling it out on her broom.

Here's the thing: when I was a child, I spake as a…wait, no. Ahem. When I was a child, I thought this was an admonition to Dorothy: Surrender, my pretty! Just give up.

When I was older (and a copy editor, for a while), I noticed the absent comma, and I thought to myself (smugly, I fear, and with great complacency/gentle contempt), "Oh, they have made an error and omitted the comma." But I still thought it was addressed to Dorothy.

It was not so long ago that I realized that this is not addressed to Dorothy at all! This is not a punctuation error. This is the witch talking to Oz! The great city of Oz! And probably the wizard, too, while we're at it. And telling them that they had to surrender Dorothy! Give her up, hand her over, etc.

Now, my great and pressing concern: Has this always been clear to everyone? Do all the people who are tweeting it around vis a vis Trump mean to address Trump? Or the city that shelters him? Why is language so troublesome, and yet so wonderful?

2 thoughts on “OK, I Know This Is Crazy But…Surrender Dorothy Has No Comma, and I Care

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