I must have edited or perhaps only looked at /etc/default/saslauthd while at my boyfriend's flat - he runs Microsoft Windows which apparently writes all kinds of invisible crap like redundant line-feed rubbish in text files that remain invisible even with nano or vi on Linux! The blank lines causing errors was the clue that led me to learn about the "dos2unix" utility that fixed the file. Thank you Falco for pointing me to the suspect file.
root@harmsen:/# dos2unix /etc/default/saslauthd
root@harmsen:/# /etc/init.d/saslauthd stop
* Stopping SASL Authentication Daemon saslauthd [ OK ]
root@harmsen:/# /etc/init.d/saslauthd start
* Starting SASL Authentication Daemon saslauthd [ OK ]