Saturday, April 22, 2017

Saturday & Sundries

There's still one topic left to be represented in this week's "profiling" series, it'll be dealt with after the weekend, though a couple of these sundry items do touch on it.

From this fairly recent Guardian piece on that dratted Oxford comma:

Never let it be said that punctuation doesn’t matter.

In Maine, the much-disputed Oxford comma has helped a group of dairy drivers in a dispute with a company about overtime pay. [Detail on this at the link].

The Oxford comma is used before the words “and” or “or” in a list of three or more things. Also known as the serial comma, its aficionados say it clarifies sentences in which things are listed.

As Grammarly notes, the sentences “I love my parents, Lady Gaga and Humpty Dumpty” and “I love my parents, Lady Gaga, and Humpty Dumpty” are a little different. Without a comma, it looks like the parents in question are, in fact, Lady Gaga and Humpty Dumpty.

The Oxford comma ignites considerable passion among its proponents and opponents. In 2011, when it was wrongly reported that the Oxford comma was being dropped by the University of Oxford style guide, there was uproar.

“Who gives a fuck about an Oxford comma?” opens one Vampire Weekend song.

The Guardian style guide has the following to say about Oxford commas:

a comma before the final “and” in lists: straightforward ones (he ate ham, eggs and chips) do not need one, but sometimes it can help the reader (he ate cereal, kippers, bacon, eggs, toast and marmalade, and tea).

Sometimes it is essential: compare

I dedicate this book to my parents, Martin Amis, and JK Rowling


I dedicate this book to my parents, Martin Amis and JK Rowling

While adding tags I noted that another aspect of the comma was mentioned in a past collection of bits and pieces:

Question: "Will we use commas in the future?" Article by Matthew J.X. Malady at Slate.

Answer: One would hope so, unless civilisation crumbles to the point where no human is capable of writing, reading and constructing an intelligible sentence.

From New Yorker article How to Stay Sane as a Cartoonist in Trumpland
By David Sipress:

Two pieces of wisdom from Henry David Thoreau:

Men say they know many things
But lo!they have taken wings, -
The arts and sciences,
And a thousand appliances;
The wind that blows
Is all that any body knows.

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.


Wisewebwoman said...

I think many of us yearn for a world that was more intelligible. Alas,times have changed but maybe not for the worst. I asked Grandgirl recently what she would like as a gift and she responded "a subscription to The Economist".

I have enormous hopes for her generation Ven if language (and commas!) have evolved.


Twilight said...

Wisewebwoman ~ Yes, that generation, and the next, will have even more challenges than those gone before, but some indications do point to a hope that they'll be up to it all. As happened in their great grandparents' case, deep reserves of courage are known to surface when absolutely essential.

R J Adams said...

Do away with the Oxford comma! What sacrilege! The very idea! Why, I'd be lost without it! (And badly used exclamation marks, also.) ;-)

Twilight said...

RJ Adams ~ Well...I'm never aware that I'm using the Oxford comma, if I ever do that is. I don't sit at the keyboard and think..."Oxford comma here?! I have occasionally added a comma when reading some piece for a 2nd or 3rd time and realising that the meaning isn't quite right - that'll be the ol'Oxford-com.

Exclamation marks? I probably do scatter 'em around without absolute necessity. I seldom use more than one at a time though. No screeching row of them is ever justified. :-)

Audrey Maurice said...

Merci pour tout ce travail que cela représente et pour tout le plaisir que j’y trouve
vrai voyance email