Friday, October 09, 2015

More on the Oxford comma

If you read my novels, my editors put in the Oxford commas. They must have a drawer full because I won't use them. I know the comma, one way or another, will not affect the enjoyment of reading any book.

A comma replaces the word "and" and when I told my Oxford-comma-loving husband that, he asked me where I heard it. I replied in high school and college grammar classes. I should reveal that he is a professional writer too, and a good one.

I will give him credit that he brought this quote to me, supporting my belief and opposite to his.

"For example, in such enumeration as 'French, German, Italian and Spanish', the two commas take the place of 'ands': there is no comma after Italian', because, with 'and', it would be otiose." This was from Fowler's Modern English Usage.

I have to admit I had to look up the word 'otiose' something I rarely have to do, which is humbling.

Merriman-Webster defines otiose as producing no use result, futile, functionless.

That one of the few disagreements he and I have are over the Oxford comma.

Here is the Amazon description  of the book: "Fowler's Modern English Usage is the world-famous guide to English usage, loved and used by writers of all kinds. In keeping with its long tradition, Fowler's gives comprehensive and practical advice on grammar, syntax, style, and choice of words. It gives a clear and authoritative picture of the English we use, and elucidates many scores of usage questions such as the split infinitive and the intricacies of political correctness. It gives in-depth coverage of both British and American English with reference to the English of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and South Africa. The volume includes wide-ranging examples of usage from a broad selection of newspapers, journals, and books from across the globe, and features illustrative quotations from authors such as Agatha Christie, Chinua Achebe, Iris Murdoch, Harold Pinter, and Noel Coward.

"Based on the evidence and research of the Oxford Dictionaries Program, this is the most comprehensive and authoritative guide to usage available. The third edition of 1996 provided a complete revision and an expansion of the original text, bringing the book fully up to date on all matters of grammar, usage, syntax, and style.

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