1. THE FATAL COMMA
Czarina Maria Fyodorovna once saved the life of a man by transposing a single comma in a warrant signed by her husband, Alexander III, which exiled a criminal to imprisonment and death in Siberia. On the bottom of the warrant the czar had written: `Pardon impossible, to be sent to Siberia.' The czarina changed the punctuation so that her husband's instructions read: `Pardon, impossible to be sent to Siberia.' The man was set free.
2. THE BLASPHEMOUS COMMA
In several editions of the King James Bible, Luke 23:32 is changed entirely by the absence of a comma. In the passage that describes the other men crucified with Christ, the erroneous editions read: `And there were also two other malefactors.' Instead of counting Christ as a malefactor, the passage should read: `And there were also two other, malefactors.'
3. THE MILLION-DOLLAR COMMA
The US government lost at least a million dollars through the slip of a comma. In the tariff act passed on June 6, 1872, a list of duty-free items included: `Fruit plants, tropical and semitropical'. A government clerk accidentally altered the line to read: `Fruit, plants tropical and semitropical'. Importers successfully contended that the passage, as written, exempted all tropical and semitropical plants from duty fees. This cost the US a fortune until May 9, 1874, when the passage was amended to plug the hole.
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