Idle Oxford Comma Speculation

This morning, I was trying to resist ranting on a forum where the Oxford Comma was being discussed.

Reading the comments, there seemed to be a pattern between the two camps. The people who were against the Oxford comma were looking at the comma syntactically as a replacement for the conjunction,

I believe the people for the comma were approaching the problem phonetically–this is where I would pause in speech to denote a new item in the sequence, therefore a comma is correct.

Or maybe I’m wrong.

Oh, and for reference, here’s the original article that sparked the debate, and while I believe is correct in every possible way.

3 thoughts on “Idle Oxford Comma Speculation

  1. Katy Sozaeva

    If I’m ever unsure about comma placement, I read the sentence aloud and listen for where it breaks naturally, and punctuate it there – comma, colon, or semi-colon depending upon sentence structure. The thing is, novelists should be using Chicago style, not Oxford, so those folks are discussing something completely moot anyway…

    1. shannon Post author

      Actually “Oxford Comma” is just another way of saying the use of commas at the end of a sequence. For some reason, people started calling this the Oxford comma as it was part of the Oxford University Press Style manual. However, it is also the CMOS-approved method.

      My high school taught the MLA style manual, which supports its usage, which is probably why I’ve gotten used to it.

      On the other hand, many periodicals support the only-when-necessary use of serial commas as a comma or two could conceivably cost column inches. The AP style guide, for instance is firmly against it.


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