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Thursday 12 April 2012
Bloggers like me have to think about a lot more things than blog readers like you. Besides what important topics I need to write about, I also have to consider which words in each sentence should be Capitalized. Should "potatoe" be spelled without the final "e"? And nothing I have to say is more important than how I punctuate it!
Take the so-called Oxford comma. Some people call the Oxford comma a serial comma, but I find that it tastes terrible in milk. If you didn't know, the Oxford comma is the comma appearing immediately before the final item in a series as demonstrated here, there, and everywhere.
I was taught in high school by an ironclad woman named Barbara Landreth that the Oxford comma should always be used always. Always. However, while The Oxford Style Manual still endorses the comma it named, it seems to me that most bloggers don't care for it anymore. It certainly doesn't help that newspaper reporters have shunned use of the Oxford comma, but look where that attitude has gotten them.
"Walter," I hear you say, "it's 2012. Everyone texts now; no one cares about stupid commas anymore!" Well, you should. That extra comma really clarifies quite a bit. Take the following examples and consider how their meaning would change with the addition of an old-fashioned Oxford comma:
Martha Stewart's former cellmate says the most important elements of a good Halloween party are the guests, crackers and spooks.
In a national election for the President of the United States, the American people will never elect Mormons, liars and criminals, unless they have no other choices.
She introduced me to her favorite body parts, Dick and Peter.
Oxford commas. They're not just for breakfast anymore.
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