I am looking at a computerized sample question and solution from a university writing improvement center.

True or false. The following sentence is punctuated correctly.

Carl Jung was born in Switzerland in 1875 and died in 1961, at first, he was a disciple of Freud.

I marked false: this really looks like a comma splice to me.

However the computer said "true", explaining: "A comma is required before the faux conjunction at first since it connects two independent clauses."

Two questions:

  1. This sentence could not possibly be correctly punctuated, right?!

  2. "Faux conjunction(s)" registers less than 10 google hits, all of which were useless. If this is in fact a real concept, can someone give an explanation about the meaning the question's author intended?

closed as too localized by MetaEd, JSBձոգչ, FumbleFingers, Barrie England, Andrew Leach Aug 28 '12 at 15:06

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  • 6
    The sentence is indeed a comma splice. Who knows what the software was thinking? "To err is human, but if you really want to screw things up, use a computer." – Robusto Aug 28 '12 at 14:01
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    A 'faux conjunction' is presumably somebody's notion of an adverb or adverb phrase masquerading as a conjunction. That's certainly not the case here. And anybody who would use 'faux' in a context when plain English 'false' is in order is clearly not be trusted. – StoneyB Aug 28 '12 at 14:04
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    +1 Question shows research. Voting to close "too localized". This question is about a term that doesn't exist for a construction that isn't used. – MetaEd Aug 28 '12 at 14:05
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    Yeah, I agree with MetaEd, here. You are right, and your computer program is on drugs. – JSBձոգչ Aug 28 '12 at 14:14
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    @rschwieb I upvoted your question. It's unfortunate that it had to be closed but it makes sense - that structure doesn't exist. I don't blame you for asking here though, it's a good way to find out things that the almighty Google can't help you figure out. Now you and I know that there's no such thing as a "faux conjunction," all the better for us! Also, I hope that Robusto was being sarcastic about computers... online sample questions run by computers yes, but the solutions set up by humans. Natural language processing is also very useful, even if it can't catch every aspect of a language :) – Chris Cirefice Jun 10 '14 at 18:29

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