Okay, everybody — just calm the hell down, already. I saw — I don’t even know how many links, yesterday, about the announcement that Oxford University’s style manual was no longer advocating the use of the serial comma, or the “Oxford comma.” That they were, in fact, recommending you not use it. This naturally lead to rioting in the streets, looting, and arson, and is generally being considered one of the Seven Seals of the Apocalypse.
I, too, fell to my knees and wept at this latest assault on our language, but —
Wait, what? You don’t know what a serial comma is? What, seriously? You don’t — I just — why are you even reading my blog? A serial comma is that last comma in a series of items, so you don’t end up with sentences like this description of Peter Ustinov: “Highlights of his global tour include encounters with Nelson Mandela, an 800-year-old demigod and a dildo collector.”
I have never once heard a compelling argument as to why we shouldn’t use a serial comma. Sure, the AP Stylebook advises against it, but they’re not talking about English, they’re talking about journalism. Two entirely different languages.
Anyway, it turns out that the announcement is meaningless. That style guide I linked to above? That’s a “branding style guide” used by the University of Oxford Public Affairs Directorate, “a commercially and editorially autonomous organization.” Oxford University Press itself still suggests its use. So all is still right with the world. Thank God that’s over with.previous post: Preserving Books for the Future | next post: E-Reader Ownership Doubles in Six Months