Sep 28, 2011

by English Muse

The debate over whether or not to use the Oxford Comma was actually a Google trending topic today…

It’s surprising and interesting that people have such strong opinions about it. Here’s one explanation from comma supporters: The Oxford comma is the difference between “We invited the strippers, JFK, and Stalin” (3 attending the party) and “We invited the strippers, JFK and Stalin.” (2 attending, and both are strippers).

I used to be a newspaper reporter and Oxford commas were banned — ¬†as a means of saving money on ink. Since space on the Internet is infinite, I guess we now have the luxury of using them.
But I think it’s too late for me…

As long as no one’s banning the exclamation point, I’m happy!

This entry was posted on Wednesday, September 28th, 2011 at 7:56 pm. It is filed under Blog, Trending. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

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18 Responses to “The Oxford Comma”

  1. Susan says:

    Well, not for me. I blogged on this several times (but used a diff. illustration recently). Having been in both newsroom & academic settings, I used it most of the time. It retains an elegance that I quite like. And the confusion w/out it, while good for comedy, is not good for clarity. I dislike having to reread a sentence to insert it.

    I don’t think you need it very often, though. Meaning, you, Tina…as I can’t think of a time you were unclear. xo

  2. brian says:

    ha. i am terrible with punctuation so asking me to do more might just be pointless…smiles.

  3. Saartje says:

    The Oxford comma… As a non-native English speaker I had never heard of the name until only a few weeks ago. That is also when I found out that I unconsciously was/am a big fan of it. To me, it feels as though it gives certain sentences and texts something more refined – but that is of course just a feeling. I’m pretty sure that some people find my writing incredibly annoying because of it!

  4. Katie says:

    I’ve posted on the Oxford comma, too. I love it for its help with clarity. It also seems to be the norm in most of the academic settings I’ve inhabited thus far. Still, I don’t oppose leaving it out too severely, but I definitely tried to train students to use it when I was a writing tutor! It’s one of those prescriptive things that is only really significant when it affects meaning. Other times, I could hardly care less.

  5. laurie b says:

    i use it, i admit. and i tell my students to either use it consistently or forget it. it is a black or white issue and maybe that’s why it is so intriguing.

  6. Sharmaine Ruth says:

    Haha the oxford comma…such a great and funny controversy :)

  7. Cheryl J says:

    I was also alerted to the Oxford Comma recently. I can see why it makes a difference but I don’t know why the whole debate just sprung up overnight! Anyway, love the Vampire Weekend song! :)

  8. rooth says:

    I used to use the Oxford Comma but don’t in a professional setting – I’m not sure who made up that rule. Good to know someone else thinks about it as well!

    • Tina says:

      My boss at my old job was constantly trying to get me to use the Oxford Comma (I think he called the “academic comma.”) He also wanted me to write everything in past tense. Needless to say, I’m no longer working there. I believe in living in the present with only dashes, exclamations points…and ellipses…

  9. caroline says:

    I noticed that I unconsciously use the oxford comma. But if I happen to catch it, I always go back and do a little delete action.

  10. Joy says:

    Haha I think I’ll still be in the minority and will continue to duly use them. After all I was educated by the Brits and spell things with ‘ou’ like colour or favourite.

    • Tina says:

      I don’t think the British press uses it either…Damn journalists have ruined the language!

      • MW says:

        I agree! Even in Canada, where the British way is still largely the “correct” way, the press still refuses to use the Oxford comma. :/

  11. Lisa says:

    I’ve always heard it called a serial comma. And I use it religiously, as it makes more sense. And it’s just the right way to do it, dang it!

  12. I’ve heard to much about this recently! When I was a Journalism major, I never knew it was called this. It was called the journalism way (no comma) and the English way (comma). I think of that EVERY time I write — I prefer no comma. But then again, not all of my sentences risk a misunderstanding of JFK and Stalin being strippers. And I must say, I do love ellipses and dashes. LOVE them!

  13. I am also a former newspaper reporter (and current freelance writer,) and I simply can not make myself use the Oxford comma. My 14-year-old son completely disagrees with me and we’ve had many fun and funny arguments about it. Each citing his or her own authoritative sources. “Mom, you gave me The Elements of Style and they use it. See.” Actually, I have to check that out, but regardless, after years of abstaining from it, the Oxford comma always looks extraneous to my eye. It clutters things up. The example above is very funny – and I also have seen it pop up on a couple people’s Facebook feeds – but it is mostly unclear because it is out of context. Well, that’s my justification for continued comma abstinence.

    At least my kid and are united in our love of Vampire Weekend.
    Cheers,
    Maria

  14. I’m a spanish speaker so i have never heard (or read) before about oxford commas, but i think that given the fact that english has so few rules (not that i know them at all, but i live with a professional translator) it’s nice to retain some of them, even if they are a little oldfashioned. I hate the way here in Spain people is destroying grammar and punctuation since the expansion of internet and SMS. I’m with oxford commas! (and very sorry for my awful english)

fin.
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