Jun 162012

You know it – it’s that “optional” comma at the end of a list.  “I went to the bar last night with Jim, John, and Sue.”  It’s that comma between “John” and “and.”

There’s not a “correct” answer as to whether it’s required.  Generally, as I understand it, the comma is optional, and its usage is a stylistic, rather than a grammatical, question.  But it’s a stylistic question about which people have quite strong feelings.  Feelings that, for the most part, they take very seriously.

And some friends and I have something of a hypothesis:  the Oxford comma is, in fact, the closest thing to a “secret handshake” those of us in the “monogamish” club have.  If you see mention of it in an OKCupid profile?  Chances are, that’s a person who’s a swinger, poly, or otherwise monogamish.  At a party?  If someone brings it up?  Likely she’s fair game for an advance, even if her husband is with her.

Have you noticed this?  Are we alone in this?

  9 Responses to “The Oxford Comma”

  1. This is news to me.

    I’ve had a silly statement about supporting the Oxford Comma on my “about me” page for as long as I’ve had the blog. I started writing just a couple of months after Oxford University officially dropped the Oxford comma from their style guide.

    For the record, I support the Oxford comma because it’s still recommended in the MLA and APA style guides, not because I’m monogamish. Also, for the record, I am monogamish (but my support of proper punctuation has nothing to do with it). 🙂

    Perhaps poly-leaning people are just grammar hard-ons. 🙂

  2. I am, and always have been a fan and proponent of the Oxford comma. I love that Vampire Weekend has a song called “Oxford Comma,” though it’s clear they don’t really give a shit about it. I’m not sure exactly what this means about my sexuality, though.

  3. I’d have used a semi-colon… 🙂

  4. I like your image better than the other one I’ve seen in support of the Oxford comma (http://www.verbicidemagazine.com/2012/01/24/eggs-toast-and-orange-juice-oxford-comma/)

    I usually don’t use it unless the meaning of the sentence really is ambiguous without it. But if the meaning is clear, why use an extra character? The extra ink from all the extra commas can add up if the materials are printed! 😉

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