kath wrote:well, okay. sucky example. using BTO fucqued me up.
i'm gonna try again.
obviously, two things here. what the original writer *wanted* to be subordinate and what came out instead as a confusing, coordinate construction.
did led zeppelin's fish-costume phase spectacularly fail or represent the counter to their manly, hairy image?
i would (and did) write that without the commas under discussion. if i wanted to show clear subordination, i would've written that sentence in a very different way.
(hey, at least my example is closer to what i want than the BTO.)
the problem here is that any notion of subordination doesn't change the fact that you have two main verbs tied to one subject, each with equal billing in the structure of the sentence as it was written and with that coordinating conjunction "or'. subordinating clauses, the ones set off by commas (like this one), are offshoots of primary sentence structure... meaning they typically don't appear attached as main verb or verb constructions. so yeah, that use of "or" probably pisses me off more than any comma issyew. any coordinating conjunction would work the same way in the layout of the sentence. take the ever popular "and". if you used "and" instead of "or" in yer original example or in my zep example, would you still insert the commas in there?
sure, you can (and did) throw in commas to break that up and show some subordination. i would say the better, clearer way would be to use actual subordinate clause construction, cuz something like "or represent the counter to" aint it.
do you know what i mean?
what. i really do love talking about this stuff.
In the interests of the fun side of this - the real point is that the two verbs are contrary to each other, but relate to the same OBJECT in the sentence.
The original, broken down, says "did the court apply the decision in Strickland; or did the court reach a decision contrary to the decision in Strickland". These are opposites.
In your ledzep example, along these lines the sentence, broken down, would be "did the fish costume phase spectacularly fail their hairy image; or did it represent the counter to their hairy image." I have to say that these are not obviously opposites, and also that the first bit -did it fail their hairy image - doesn't make much sense to me, but then led zep are largely an unopened book to me.