A very short debate on the Oxford comma…

In my previous post I talked a little about the Oxford Comma. And in searching for an image for said post, I found this:

Screen Shot 2015-08-04 at 14.19.23

Now – and very quickly – I personally think that even with the omission of the Oxford comma we still did not invite the strippers JFK and Stalin to whatever weird party we seem to be having. I think it still reads as inviting all three: the strippers and the two former world leaders. I believe that to invite these two dodgy strippers we would have to leave out all of the commas. By inserting just a single comma after ‘strippers’, however, we define what’s coming next as being a list of some sorts and – hopefully – the reader will assume as such, Oxford comma or not.

In relation to my own masterpiece, I’ve had various beta readers (and an editor) all have conflicting views regarding this very issue.

What do you think?

Thanks for reading.

10 comments on “A very short debate on the Oxford comma…

  1. Malcolm Eynon says:

    If you go by my basic guide, which is how it would sound if spoken – my golden rule, in fact, for where to place a comma – then the first comma is incorrect too! It should simply be, “We invited the strippers JFK and Stalin”. Would you pause after “strippers” if it were spoken? No, of course not. Therefore no comma. And while I am at it, never mind the so-called Oxford Comma; what about the maimed, dying, horrendously abused apostrophe? Its high time we organise’d variou’s campaign’s for it’s revival (ahem)!! What I really hate, loathe and detest, is that those of us who were once educated in the ways of correct grammar and spelling, are being led off way track and into a cesspit, by those who either have never been educated, no longer know or no longer care. Grrrrr … Lots of Grrrr’s (ahem and aaaarrgh)

    • gpeynon says:

      Hmm. I still think you need the comma after strippers, but it’s a tricky one. I think they have used a bad example as they made a list to highlight their point, but it’s a list that also contains names, which can therefore demand a coma in their own right. It’s a blooming’ minefield of syntax, context and how’s-about-this.
      And I feel your Grrrr in regard to the apostrophe. But I’ll get to that another time…

  2. Naomi Harvey says:

    The Oxford Comma is a tricky one. I prefer not to use it, and would rather re-organise the sentence to make more sense. “We invited JFK, Stalin and the strippers.” or “..Stalin, the strippers and JFK.” Alternatively you could change the sentence structure around and have something like “As well as inviting JFK and Stalin, we also invited the strippers.

    I don’t believe it is neccessary to use the Oxford Comma, but sometimes I use it out of sheer laziness.

    • gpeynon says:

      Yes it is tricky. I know exactly what you mean about the sentence needing to be reworked. It’s not a good example of how/how not to use the Oxford C – which is probably why it jumped out at me.

  3. I thought a Commer was a truck!

  4. giffmacshane says:

    The Oxford comma is my BFF. We will never part ways.

    • gpeynon says:

      And that is fine. There’s nothing wrong with the humble OC; just a raging debate over whether or not to use it. I hope the two of you are very happy together 🙂

  5. Truly, there has never been a better defense of the Oxford comma.

    – From an Oxford Comma user.

    • gpeynon says:

      You think so? I thought they used a slightly ambiguous example that didn’t make their case very well. I don’t like the OC myself; I think it’s a British thing.

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