The Oxford Comma

See this article, on the importance of the “Oxford Comma” in a legal battle involving a dairy and its workers in Maine.

A Maine court ruling in a case about overtime pay and dairy delivery didn’t come down to trucks, milk, or money. Instead, it hinged on one missing comma.


If lawmakers had used a serial comma, it would have been clear that distribution was an overtime-exempt activity on its own. But without the comma, wrote US appeals judge David J. Barron, the law is ambiguous as to whether distribution is a separate activity, or whether the whole last clause—”packing for shipment or distribution”—is one activity, meaning only the people who pack the dairy products are exempt. The drivers do distribute, but do not pack, the perishable food.

I’m very much a fan of the “Oxford Comma.” Why? Well, it just makes sense (to me; I realize others will disagree) and helps to be more specific and intentional with one’s writing. Now, I was also one of the weirdos in school who enjoyed sentence diagramming, and I enjoyed showing my son how to diagram sentences, which we did in both English and Latin. I suppose I’m a grammar and mechanics nut.

Regardless of the memes going around about Hitler and Stalin and the “Oxford Comma,”I know some people will think this is all to do about nothing. But at the same time, the difference between homoousios and homoiousios is quite literally universe shaking. So, I think it pays to be careful with writing.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s