Setting Things Right
“I spent all morning taking out a comma and all afternoon putting it back in again.”
I have for some time debated the use of the Oxford comma, that smart, pretentious seeming little comma after the second to last item in a list such as;
“I am going camping tomorrow and I am taking my tent, flashlight, and backpack.”
Why not, I contended, simply omit this one little comma?
Is it not superfluous? Does the reader not clearly understand that all of these items are indeed being taken camping? Of course they do. It would simply read as this;
“I am going camping tomorrow and I am taking my tent, flashlight and backpack.”
But the debate deepens when we look at the Oxford or Serial comma, as it is also known, in a dedication such as here;
“I would like to dedicate this book of Poetry to my Parents, Emily Dickinson and Leonard Cohen.”
In this case if the Oxford comma is not used it raises the question as to who exactly my parents are.
While there are proponents for both sides of this stylistic question I endeavour at all times, though occasionally fail, to be clear and concise, and so I must relegate back to the Oxford comma for clarity.
Isn’t it nice to know that while unlikely Kings rise and fall that still the stylistics of grammar rage on?
Isn’t it good to take a step back from the drama of everyday life, the fervour of media in what is becoming a very fast world and say, yes, this indeed is of great import as well.
Sure it is.
So as the sun brightens a creamy February sky in the Ottawa valley, and as people across the nation rise up to greet the day, they can now go forward with the sound knowledge that this has, at least for now, been resolved in this writer’s heart and blog.
Until the next morning…