Excuse me, the Oxford comma is SO still necessary

I am an unabashed enthusiast of the Oxford comma. The reason is simple: punctuation exists to make your meaning clear. The Oxford comma–for you grammar heathens out there, the Oxford comma is the comma that precedes “and final item in a list of three or more”–is a tool of disambiguation, and as such deserves to be retained in common usage.

I find examples like this one in reviews I read fairly often:

As a follow up to the excellent Under Witch Moon, I expected more interesting adventures of the witch Adriel, her friend the shifter and her more than friend, White Feather.

We’ll just ignore the dangling modifier that begins the sentence and look directly at the list. Is she talking about two people here, or three?  We have the witch Adriel, and then we have…her friend the shifter (unnamed) and White Feather, who is more than a friend, or do we have White Feather her shifter friend who is actually more than a friend?  Part of the problem there is the inconsistent application of names, but mostly the problem is the lack of disambiguation between items 2 and 3 in the list. THE OXFORD COMMA SOLVES THIS PROBLEM.

For those of you who prefer visual humor, this illustration sums up the issues quite perfectly:

I stand strong in support of the serial comma!

I need a blog badge for that. Oxford comma 4-evah!


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Filed under Ramblings, Writing

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