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I wonder if there should be commas in this sentence:

  1. Method A translates votes into seats such that, for each constituency, fixed seat-contingents are met.
  2. Method A translates votes into seats such that for each constituency fixed seat-contingents are met.

The expression "for each constituency" is not exactly parenthetical, but without the commas it seems harder to grasp the sentence.

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I don't really understand what the sentence is supposedly saying (in either case). I'm guessing that perhaps switching such that to so that (or in such a way that) might clarify. From dictionary.com: such that adj : of a degree or quality specified (by the `that' clause); their anxiety was such that they could not sleep : so the 'such that' introduces an adjectival modifying anxiety here. I don't think the intention is to modify 'seats' above - but rather, the adequacy of 'Method A'. –  Edwin Ashworth Feb 2 '13 at 11:44
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"for each constituency" is indeed parenthetical, I think. "Method A translates votes into seats such that fixed seat-contingents are met." is a correct and complete sentence conveying part of the meaning. –  Kris Feb 2 '13 at 12:50

1 Answer 1

up vote 2 down vote accepted

I think the commas are necessary. Their function is not always to indicate that the information between them is parenthetical (and, therefore, unimportant). Sometimes their only function is to tell the reader to pause for half a second.

I agree with your assessment that without the commas, the sentence is more difficult to understand. Therefore, they are necessary. You're right.

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+1. Agree. For each constituency is, in R L Trask's term, a 'weak interruption' informatics.sussex.ac.uk/department/docs/punctuation/… –  Barrie England Feb 2 '13 at 9:57
    
@Barrie: Yes, a weak interruption is a good term for this kind of added information. This term is helpful. –  user21497 Feb 2 '13 at 10:48

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