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Picture of shufitz
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Yesterday's on-line Wall Street Journal:

The Pause That Confuses
From the Washington Times:
    Britain's Sky News posted this bulletin about the Nelson Mandela memorial service at 6:36 p.m. London time Tuesday: "Top stories: World leaders at Mandela tribute, Obama-Castro handshake and same-sex marriage date set."

    The prospect of a wedding between the two leaders got the Twitterverse tweeting.

    "This is why the Oxford comma exists!" said Carole Blake, a literary agent in London.
The Oxford comma, also known as a serial comma, refers to the practice of putting a comma between the penultimate item in a list and the conjunction that ties together the list. The Wall Street Journal doesn't use the serial comma, so we would write "X, Y and Z." The Oxford High Street Journal, by contrast, would write "X, Y, and zed."

The Sky News tweet could have used an Oxford comma, but making it a rule creates problems of its own. Years ago when we worked on the Journal's op-ed desk, we received a submission from a writer who argued that the Oxford comma should be universally adopted so as to avoid ambiguities. We wrote back: "My boss, Max Boot, and I find your argument unpersuasive. Do two or three people find it unpersuasive?"

Of course the question would really be a stumper if we'd written the preceding sentence in the first-person plural.
 
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Max Boot? Is that a large German vessel?

Michelle gets him Monday, Wednesday, and Friday; Raul gets him Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Menage a trois on Sunday, using the Havana colon.
 
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As Shu knows, I think the serial comma is essential. For the second example given? Just change the sentence.

My workplace doesn't allow us to use the serial comma, and I think it's confusing not to use it.
 
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Our style guide at work says not to use the serial comma in normal writing, but if there is danger of confusion we should use it. Rare common sense.


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
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Picture of Kalleh
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Yes, that's what our says, too. However, I don't agree because I think that creates more confusion than the other way (use the serial comma unless it doesn't make sense). However, it's the consistency that is important, and that's what we don't have.
 
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Can you use commas if you wear these? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxford_shoe
 
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I eat Cheerios, Corn Flakes, and Wheaties. Do they need a cereal comma?

Just got word that the South African interpreter has a new gig at the Peter O'Toole funeral.

Latest pictures from the Chinese moon rover features BobHale driving DUI.
 
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Well, the Chinese DO make some good beer, IMHO!
Wanna know why? Watch the movie, "Red Sorghum:"
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0093206/
 
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Getting back to seriousness (ahem!), technically I do think "I eat Cheerios, Corn Flakes, and Wheaties" is the best. With no serial comma, I (a literalist,remember) could think that I mixed together Corn Flakes and Wheaties.

I prefer the serial comma.

[corrected typo]

This message has been edited. Last edited by: Kalleh,
 
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I agree. Situation dictates its use.
 
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