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Posts Tagged ‘comma

The Oxford Comma…

The Oxford Comma– AKA, the final serial comma– has come in for some harsh criticism.  Indeed recently, the storied punctuation mark suffered the ugliest of indignities:  the “Writing and Style Guide” in Oxford University’s own “Branding Handbook” (the internal guide to usage meant to be consistent across all University publications) instructed: “As a general rule, do not use the serial/Oxford comma: so write ‘a, b and c’ not ‘a, b, and c’.”

The Prose Police did carve out an exception:  “when a comma would assist in the meaning of the sentence or helps to resolve ambiguity, it can be used…”

Good thing too.  Language Log demonstrates with examples both hypothetical:

…and actual:

Your correspondent operates, as readers may have noticed, on the compositional principal “better safe than sorry”…

As we disagree with Vampire Weekend, we might recall another example of linguistic mutability:  it was on this date in 1966 that Jimmy Hendrix changed his name to Jimi Hendrix.  Hendrix had a good bit of Experience, if readers will forgive the pun, with name changes…  He born was Johnny Allen Hendrix, but his father changed his name to James Marshall Hendrix (in honor of the father’s dead brother).  Hendrix performed as a sideman as “Maurice James”; he led his pre-fame band, The Blue Flames, as “Jimmy James”; and when confronted with confusion of having two Randys in the group– Guitarist Randy Wolf and bassist Randy Palmer, he dubbed the latter “Randy Texas.”  The former, anointed by Hendrix as “Randy California,” later joined his step-father Ed Cassidy to form Spirit.

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The Annals of Punctuation: Onerous Omissions…

In his blog Making Light, under the headline “The return of the final serial comma’s vital necessity,” Patrick Nielsen Hayden reproduces this clipping from the July 21 edition of the Los Angeles Times:

As Michael Quinion observes in World Wide Words, it’s reminiscent of the famous [but apocryphal] book dedication, “To my parents, Ayn Rand and God.”

As we recommit ourselves to curly clarity, we might recall that on this date in 1897 the first free-standing Library of Congress– the Jefferson Building– opened its doors to the public.  The Library had until then been housed in the Congressional Reading Room in the U.S. Capitol.

The Jefferson Building under construction (source)

 

 

 

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