Word Crimes

As far as basic grammar lessons go, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Gv0H-vPoDc&feature=kp is a pretty catchy one from Weird Al. Can anyone tell me why the Oxford comma is being dumped on lately?

The Oxford Comma War is a lot like other wars (Mac vs PC, Gnome vs Kubuntu, vi vs emacs) that have a lot of passionate advocates on both sides of the line. Recently Oxford changed its style guide to drop use of the Oxford Comma, and the anti-Oxford Comma crowd are having a real fun time with that.

I'm pro Oxford Comma. That said, I'll use whatever style guide someone pays me to use.

Wait... Why would people be anti-Oxford comma? It's just sooo much clearer what you're talking about.

Also, this is slightly off-topic, but are you sure it's GNOME vs. Kubuntu? 'Cause I'm pretty sure it's GNOME vs. KDE. (I'm an asshole about stuff like that)

Thank you so much for finding this! I saw it on Facebook, but never got the chance to see the video due to working on some stuff and it's out of my feed now. Though, I agree with the Oxford comma thing. I been only seeing this the last few months(from my internship in college to now) and it drives me nuts... Even more than trying to proof nursing papers for my twin sister(medical progression throws out all English rules).


You're right Alex, it's Gnome v KDE. I spaced.

@ Alexander.Hollins


We invited the stripper, JFK, and Stalin.

Is JFK the name of the stripper?

So that's why there's a debate. Neither avoiding nor keeping the Oxford comma can prevent ambiguous series in sentences. You just have to make sure your wording is clear and free of possible misinterpretations yourself, and good luck with that.

We invited Stalin, JFK and the stripper(s).

We invited Stalin, JFK, and the stripper(s).

I think those all work. Unless you assume "JFK and the strippers" is the name of a band, which would be awesome.

No, it's pretty clear that you invited the stripper and JFK and Stalin. Pretty unambiguous sentence.

I'm a fan of the Walken comma personally. https://i.imgur.com/1Khmqpe.jpg

Fiona, I can see where you're going with that, but if the stripper was named JFK, there would be no need for ANY commas.

I invited the stripper JFK and Stalin.

At that point its clear that stripper is modifying JFK, and doesn't apply to stalin. (that said, it's strippers plural in the example.)

to extend it, we could also say, I invited the stripper JFK, Stalin, and Pol Pot. at this point stripper is obviously only JFK. In this instance though, you could remove the oxford comma without as much issue, I invited the stripper JFK, Stalin and Pol Pot. same meaning, since stripper is singular and obviously only applying to the first item in series. On the same token, if it was JUST names, without a word that could be a noun or an adjective at the beginning of the series, the oxford isn't really as necessary, but it FEELS better to me, and its a good habit to be in for when it DOES matter, imo.