Letters to the Editor SpecGram Vol CL, No 2 Contents A Classical Vignette--O. Popoi

The Oxford Comma: A Solution

Eliza Doolittle

The Oxford Comma has once again raised its nasty little head in linguistic circles, thanks largely to the efforts of one Ms Truss and her book, Eats, Shoots and Leaves. It is time once and for all to put this little beast to rest. (No, not Ms Truss, you moron--the Oxford Comma).

For those of you wondering what the Oxford Comma (OC) actually is, I have one question: what on earth are you doing reading an up-market linguistic magazine like this? So for your delectation and delight here is a definition of the OC: it’s the insertion of a comma after the penultimate item in a list, just before the and--for example, ‘coffee, cream, and sugar’ instead of ‘coffee, cream and sugar’.

Since the OC appears to present more problems of CrossPondian translation than any other form of punctuation, a solution must be found which satisfies users on both sides of the Atlantic. Luckily one is at hand, and in the spirit of international understanding and cooperation, I now offer it to the world at large. Put the darn thing in if you must, but just below the printing line, so that it appears to be there but not there, if you see what I mean. It thus represents either an OC, or an apostrophe belonging to the line below--possibly incorrectly used but nobody’s going to notice that--or a spider high on printing ink. It becomes all things to all men. It is flexible, adaptable, and universally expressive: in other words, it is the perfect form of punctuation. I further submit that the name be abbreviated from Oxford Comma to OdCom, suggestive of modern technological developments. This new name should improve its image and make it more desirable and user-friendly.

Letters to the Editor
A Classical Vignette--O. Popoi
SpecGram Vol CL, No 2 Contents