Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Oxford Comma

Or, as I like to call it, The Series Comma:


I have shared this gem on Facebook, where it originated from a man named Paul Jeannotte whom I do not know. But wish I did.

5 comments:

  1. I like it. When I taught Freshman Comp, I used to demonstrate with:

    "I'd like to thank my parents, God, and Ayn Rand"

    vs.

    "I'd like to thank my parents, God and Ayn Rand."

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  2. In my college prep high school in the early 90s we were taught to ignore the oxford comma, or more precisely that it is inconsequential. So, I've never used it and while reading I don't see any difference - perhaps because I understand context clues. We were taught if there could be a question or misunderstanding, you introduce a colon or semi-colon instead of more commas.

    We invited the strippers: JFK and Stalin.
    or
    We invited the strippers; JFK and Stalin. (to combine the 2 sentences. "We invited the strippers." and "They were named JFK and Stalin.")

    Of course, I'm completely humored that someone who is as much of a grammar nazi to make the image didn't use appropriate capitalization. Is that the definition of irony? ;)

    Anyhow, grammar is ambiguous even with a library full of rules because it depends on the author's intent.

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  3. Sam, Ayn Rand gives me the creeps, with or without commas.

    Stef, I don't think the person who created the visual had any idea it would get passed around. Even still, I was taught as you were -- but somewhere along the line I decided to like it. Of course, you're totally right about grammar.

    I had my mind blown by a recent interview I heard on NPR with a guy about how grammar is totally arbitrary and evolving and I am SO ANNOYED that I can't remember who it was or what the book is called. (Do you know?)

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  4. Have you seen The Oatmeal's 'How to use a Semicolon'?

    http://theoatmeal.com/comics/semicolon

    It's damn funny and right on point.

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