2 November 2012

Have Brackets Killed The Oxford Comma?

Just like Video Killed The Radio Star, it seems to me that Brackets have killed the Oxford comma.  Now I'm sure some of you will be wondering, "who gives a fuck about and Oxford comma", whilst watching your English dramas...  Well Stephen Colbert cares that's who!  Let me give you an example that is only clear in a world where an Oxford comma exists.  I went on holiday last moth with my parents, Dizzy Gillespie and a French whore.  Now, how many people did I go on holiday with?  If an Oxford comma exists then it was two, my parents who are Dizzy Gillespie and a French whore.  Otherwise I would have written 'my parents, Dizzy Gillespie, and a French whore' - did you notice the Oxford comma after 'Gillespie'?  Clearly that list is of four people.  But in a world of business-speak, which is almost as bad as newspeak, if there was such ambiguity in a sentence then the most common solution would be to use brackets, e.g. can you book a table for lunch for the two tech leads (Jane and Simon).  And if you don't even revert to using brackets to avoid the ambiguity then maybe you won't keep your business role for much longerer...