Sunday, July 3, 2011

Thoughts on the Oxford Comma

Learning the Oxford comma (also known as the serial comma) was one of the few memories I have of learning the rules of grammar or punctuation before seventh grade. In second grade, we were learning the correct way to write a list and we were told that the final comma before an "and" (the Oxford comma) was optional, but was coming into broader usage and thus should probably be employed.
e.g. I can read English, Latin[,] and Classical Greek.
The bracketed comma is an Oxford comma. I have always rather liked the Oxford comma, partially because it can clarify the meaning of a sentence. The Oxford Dictionaries provides this illustrative example:
e.g. These items are available in black and white, red and yellow, and blue and green.
According to an article on Salon, the Oxford PR department has decided to drop the Oxford comma (although the "Update" claims that this has been true for several years). As a fan, I am rather sad.

I found while Googling the Oxford comma that a band called Vampire Weekend wrote a song called "Oxford Comma" (which apparently those at Salon found as well). It's a rather random song, but I thought it was an amusing conclusion.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the news, although I can't say it bothers me too much. I am one of those writers who, knowing it's optional, uses it or not depending on my mood.