The Oxford Comma

You know it – it’s that “optional” comma at the end of a list.  “I went to the bar last night with Jim, John, and Sue.”  It’s that comma between “John” and “and.”

There’s not a “correct” answer as to whether it’s required.  Generally, as I understand it, the comma is optional, and its usage is a stylistic, rather than a grammatical, question.  But it’s a stylistic question about which people have quite strong feelings.  Feelings that, for the most part, they take very seriously.

And some friends and I have something of a hypothesis:  the Oxford comma is, in fact, the closest thing to a “secret handshake” those of us in the “monogamish” club have.  If you see mention of it in an OKCupid profile?  Chances are, that’s a person who’s a swinger, poly, or otherwise monogamish.  At a party?  If someone brings it up?  Likely she’s fair game for an advance, even if her husband is with her.

Have you noticed this?  Are we alone in this?

9 comments

  1. This is news to me.

    I’ve had a silly statement about supporting the Oxford Comma on my “about me” page for as long as I’ve had the blog. I started writing just a couple of months after Oxford University officially dropped the Oxford comma from their style guide.

    For the record, I support the Oxford comma because it’s still recommended in the MLA and APA style guides, not because I’m monogamish. Also, for the record, I am monogamish (but my support of proper punctuation has nothing to do with it). 🙂

    Perhaps poly-leaning people are just grammar hard-ons. 🙂

  2. I am, and always have been a fan and proponent of the Oxford comma. I love that Vampire Weekend has a song called “Oxford Comma,” though it’s clear they don’t really give a shit about it. I’m not sure exactly what this means about my sexuality, though.

    1. Yeah, well; unless there was an independent phrase to the left of it, or a list the items of which themselves included commas? You’da been wrong. 😉

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