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"Why we need the "Oxford comma"." Topic

16 Posts

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583 hits since 1 May 2015
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Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP01 May 2015 1:24 p.m. PST


I am taking a break from my campaign against apostrophe abuse to call attention to this.

boy wundyr x Inactive Member01 May 2015 2:08 p.m. PST

I still use it, although I only came to learn it's called an "Oxford comma" thanks to Weird Al Yankovic last summer.

Streitax Inactive Member01 May 2015 2:15 p.m. PST

Burn the heretics and their damn electronic gizmos!

freewargamesrules Inactive Member01 May 2015 2:25 p.m. PST

It's not British to use the oxford comma

Personal logo Doms Decals Sponsoring Member of TMP Inactive Member01 May 2015 3:29 p.m. PST

I use it selectively – just apply a little common sense as to whether there's scope for ambiguity in the sentence.

Personal logo javelin98 Supporting Member of TMP01 May 2015 3:42 p.m. PST

I was raised with the Oxford comma, and it just makes my earlobes twitch to see a sentence without it.

Parzival01 May 2015 3:49 p.m. PST

Except when we don't need it:

"The Queen welcomed a chimpanzee, Paul McCartney, and his wife to Buckingham Palace."

As with any punctuation or grammar "rule," use it when it increases clarity, abandon it when it does not.

Maddaz111 Inactive Member01 May 2015 5:21 p.m. PST

The answer, of course, is always to write in simple, short discrete packets of information, so as not to overload your intended audience with irrelevant information at an inappropriate or unsuitable moment, since that would confuse or make your intent substantially less clear, and could mean you fail to convey any useful information as your audience has switched off, put the book down, and gone to find the tablets marked valley forge.

Whatisitgood4atwork Inactive Member02 May 2015 6:43 a.m. PST

I suggest importing an innovation from Chinese.

Until modern times, Chinese had no punctuation at all. But, recognising a good idea when they saw it, Chinese scholars added punctuation sometime in the C19, including full stops (。) and commas.

Usefully though, Chinese now has two different types of commas: the ‘pause for breath' comma, which looks like ours, and the ‘serial list comma', which looks like this: 、.

I don't know if they imported this useful little tool from another Western language which I'm not familiar with, but it does help with clarity.

"The Queen welcomed a chimpanzee、 Paul McCartney、and his wife to Buckingham Palace.' is clearly a list of 3 separate items.

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP02 May 2015 11:30 a.m. PST

"The Queen welcomed a chimpanzee, Paul McCartney, and his wife to Buckingham Palace."

And it is necessary to alleviate confusion, as I assumed the reference to Linda McCartney was redundant after saying "a chimpanzee". i get it now, a different chimpanzee.

Personal logo Cacique Caribe Supporting Member of TMP02 May 2015 11:40 a.m. PST

Yep. Someone was definitely in a semi-comatose state when they wrote that!!!


Personal logo Andrew Walters Supporting Member of TMP02 May 2015 12:45 p.m. PST

The oxford comma is only important if you care to make yourself clear. A lot of writing makes me think that the writer's self-exaltation means we should do the work of figuring out what they mean, instead of them doing the work to be clear. We owe it to them, they're a *writer*, blessing us with their great wisdom. Ugh. Be clear.

The oxford comma performs a function. Those who oppose it value some dubious tradition over functionality. They are fops and dandies!

Personal logo Andrew Walters Supporting Member of TMP02 May 2015 12:46 p.m. PST

Not that I want to deprecate fops and dandies, just saying.

Streitax Inactive Member03 May 2015 9:50 a.m. PST

Burn the fops and dandies as well!

GarrisonMiniatures Inactive Member04 May 2015 2:46 p.m. PST

Clarity can also be achieved by sensible sequencing… 'Paul McCartney, his wife and a chimpanzee'

Henry Martini31 Dec 2015 7:50 a.m. PST

If Paul McCartney was a chimpanzee, or alternatively, the Queen invited to Buckingham Palace a married chimpanzee and his wife (whether primate or human), both of whom happened to share names with the former Beatle and his spouse, and the sentence was ordered as above, would it not correctly be written as follows?

The Queen welcomed a chimpanzee (Paul McCartney) and his wife to Buckingham Palace.

I can see no reason why the sentence as punctuated in Parzival's post should lead one to ascribe simian characteristics to Sir Paul or his late lamented spouse.

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