Who Gives a Bleep About an Oxford Comma? This lady right here.

August 20, 2008 at 6:15 am (Uncategorized)

I am a sad witness to the fading of the serial comma, also known as the Oxford comma. But I was thrilled to hear the song “Oxford Comma” by Vampire Weekend (one of my guilty-pleasures). I’ll warn you that the song uses the “f-word” twice, as in “who give a f**k about an Oxford comma.” But it’s a good song.

Obviously, I don’t agree with the boy who penned the song. I mean, I really, really care about the serial comma. I do. I care about grammar and vanishing folkways and languages and vocabulary. Someone has to.

I am also one who will stay up all night concerned about having introduced ambiguity into a sentence. I think we all know by now how my mouth can get me into big trouble! Anyone remember the PTO/flag ceremony controversy of last school year? When I take the time to speak thoughtfully instead of off-the-cuff, I consider heavily where I pause in a sentence so if I’m misunderstood, it’s not my fault, because I paused in the right spot!

Anyone who likes grammar will find the wikipedia article on the serial comma a fun read. Anyone who doesn’t like grammar needs to go read Perez Hilton.

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7 Comments

  1. J said,

    I’m a fan of the serial comma too. Yay!

  2. Heather said,

    I’m a believer in the serial comma. I have a deep and abiding love for superfluous usage of commas; they help remove ambiguity, allow a nice rythm, and look fantastic. Form and function.

  3. MissBossyPants said,

    Well said, ladies. I must admit I’m disappointed that this post isn’t getting a lot of comments, but then…the comma is so misunderstood, and none moreso than the serial comma.

  4. SuperStar said,

  5. Charnita's Xpressions said,

    Serial comma fan here as well. I really didn’t know there was a choice or debate….English major mother and all…….????? and I think I saw you from a distance at the Green and Gold game last weekend???? …..Did you feel stalked if you were???

  6. Leigh said,

    Oh, I am so bad. so lax. I began by blog thinking I would use it to post articles I have written…..now I would be embarraseed for anyone to grade it based on my grammer and punctuation.

    I am seeing a proof reader. Interested (wink)

  7. MRMacrum said,

    I never considered my usage or non usage of the serial, uh, Oxford comma. Oxford sounds better. Gives the comma a kind of cerebral feel and serial makes it seem like a crime just went down.

    Anyway, I never really considered what I do when faced with using or not using an Oxford comma. I think I do not in most circumstances. But upon re-reading some of my words, I noticed I do use it. I do love the comma though. Love it to the point of gross over indulgence. When editing my writing, I will often turn a sentence of 4 or 5 phrases into 4 or 5 sentences.

    But really, I am no one to claim any high ground when regarding the written word. I play fast and loose with the rules when the mood suits me. I also play fast and loose sometimes because I just do not know the rules anymore. My memories of english composition classes from the 1960’s are like that movie I saw once but cannot remember the plot anymore.

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