The nation is nearly evenly divided. The battle lines have been drawn. It is time to take a stand. Grammar has consequences. What am I talking about? The Oxford comma (a.k.a. the serial comma), of course. It is no small matter. Livelihoods are at stake, as I shall present below.
What is an Oxford comma? By way of example, one might say, "The American flag is red, white and blue." Or, one might say, "The American flag is red, white, and blue." Notice the comma between "white" and "and blue."
In a recent class action suit against Oakhurst Dairy by truck drivers who distribute the milk, the court ruled in favor of the truck drivers over a missing comma. The court ruled that truck drivers were not exempted from overtime pay by the Maine legislature. There is a larger issue here that I will overlook. Obviously, there is monied interest in the Maine legislation to avoid paying overtime to some of the lowest paid employees to increase profits of the owners. That is wrong and worthy of an article in itself.
At issue is the Maine law which exempts certain employees from overtime pay as described in the ruling:
Although I agree with Oakhurst on the interpretation of the law, I thought they made a weak argument. The appealed to the sense of asyndeton, for example. It's a term I had to look up. Merriam-Webster defines it as the "omission of the conjunctions that ordinarily join coordinate words or clauses (as in "I came, I saw, I conquered")." I simply put it all down to the style of the Maine legislator.
I was taught not to use the Oxford comma. Nevertheless, you will find that I use it. It adds clarity. Some may say that I overuse commas, but, again, I believe it adds clarity. I find myself reading some sentences by others over and over to determine what the author intended, where a comma would have made it clear.
I'm no grammar queen. In fact, I routinely admonish the grammar queens on WB. I routinely butcher the English language and offer no apologies. There are some authors I choose not to read because of their grammar and spelling issues. It makes my head hurt trying to figure out what they are trying to say. There are many who have a high opinion of their writing ability who shouldn't. Then, there are those who write so beautifully, simply, and eloquently that it is candy for the eye. I read their articles whether or not I am interested in the subject or not. I don't care so much if the grammar or spelling is correct. I want to understand the message.
Where do you stand on the Oxford comma?