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"His neck took to what had become apparent its characteristically unnatural bend."

In my head, this needs a comma after "apparent," but I'd like to know with certainty whether it is necessary and, if so, why?

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  • 15
    I'm sorry, but I think that sentence needs much more than a comma to set it right.
    – Robusto
    Jul 3, 2020 at 22:43
  • 1
    What are you trying to say? The only possible punctuation that I can see going after "apparent" would be a colon.
    – Robusto
    Jul 3, 2020 at 23:34
  • Can you put it in the original language? It looks like someone used a [bad] automated translator. Jul 4, 2020 at 10:33
  • I don't understand the phrase "taking to that position" in your comment. Do you mean that his neck was in that position? Jul 4, 2020 at 10:54
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    Does the sentence mean "His neck assumed an unnatural bend which, it was becoming clear, was its characteristic position"? Jul 4, 2020 at 14:11

2 Answers 2

2

The sentence is definitely wrong. It should read

His neck took to what had become apparent was its characteristically unnatural bend.

And a comma anywhere in there would be wrong.

If you really want commas in there, you can do it like this:

His neck took to what, as had become apparent, was its characteristically unnatural bend.

But that sounds even clunkier to me.

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  • We weren't asked to rewrite the sentence - only the punctuation. By changing the wording, you aren't answering the original question, q.v. Jul 4, 2020 at 17:11
  • @chasly: the OP's sentence is too broken to be fixed by a comma or two. And you don't seem to have understood my comment to your answer at all. Would you really correct "He showed me what I thought his passport" by adding a colon?
    – TonyK
    Jul 4, 2020 at 17:58
  • You could say, "He showed me what I expected: his passport", You could could say, "He showed me what I thought to be his passport." You could make all sorts of changes. In fact I have now voted to close this question because it shows no evidence of the source or the correctness of the transcription. Since I am voting to close, I will soon delete my answer for reasons within the rules of Stack Exchange. Jul 4, 2020 at 18:05
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I think there are two different problems with this sentence that are leading in opposite directions.

On first reading, the sentence appears to consist of two clauses:

  • His neck took to [something which] had become apparent
  • [the thing it took to was] its characteristically unnatural bend

As another answer says, these would most correctly be separated by a colon.

However, the intention seems to be that what had become apparent was not the bend itself, but the fact that it was characteristic. So we could try moving the "characteristic" into the first clause, to reunite it with "apparent":

  • His neck took to [something which] had become apparently characteristic
  • [the thing it took to was] an unnatural bend

But this is still unclear: is it "become ... characteristic" + "apparently" or "become" + "apparently characteristic"?

We would therefore be better moving "become" and "apparent" into a third, parenthetical clause:

  • His neck took to something which ... was characteristic
  • [the fact that it was characteristic] had become apparent
  • [the thing it took to was] an unnatural bend

Re-constructing the sentence, we might say:

His neck took to something which, it had become apparent, was characteristic: an unnatural bend.

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