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Off topic: Goodbye, dear Oxford comma
Thread poster: lindaellen (X)

lindaellen (X)

Jun 30, 2011

This is sad. A few years ago I sent a regular client (non-native Eng. - in need of proofreading), a whole page of commas - not just Oxford ones.

Will he return the Oxford commas?



http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2011/06/29/oxford-comma-dropped-university-serial-comma_n_886932.htm
... See more
This is sad. A few years ago I sent a regular client (non-native Eng. - in need of proofreading), a whole page of commas - not just Oxford ones.

Will he return the Oxford commas?



http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2011/06/29/oxford-comma-dropped-university-serial-comma_n_886932.html#s300557&title=Roisin_Bonner

Goodbye, farewell, and see you again.

lindaellen
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RominaZ  Identity Verified
Argentina
English to Spanish
+ ...
News included in the Translation News section Jun 30, 2011

Dear lindaellen,

Thanks for sharing this. I have included the news in the Translation News section of the site.


Regards,
Romina


 

Laurie Price  Identity Verified
Mexico
Spanish to English
+ ...
I, for one, am glad! Jun 30, 2011

I never saw it as serving any purpose when not helping to distinguish things for clarity or resolving ambiguities -- which means ... most of the time it was used. And anyway, what use was that comma when you already had the word 'and'?

I have no doubt that it will not rest in peace -- it was too skittish and nervous looking.

Thanks for the good news!


 

Richard Asher  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:17
Dutch to English
+ ...
Interesting Jun 30, 2011

It's news to me that anyone is still using the Oxford comma style in this day and age. I'm 31 and would certainly have seen a lot of red ink if I'd put a comma after an 'and' at any point in my school and university career in South Africa.

Still, it is sad in a way to see it go. It's nice to have little quirks like that in the world. But I am sure there will be some elderly professors upholding the tradition for some time yet.


 

Giles Watson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 22:17
Italian to English
In memoriam
The Oxford comma emigrated ages ago Jun 30, 2011

The Oxford comma is alive and well, at least in the US. I've just finished translating a book for a publisher in New York who insists on Oxford commas, which is odd in a way because the New York Times doesn't seem to like them!

Still, house styles are house styles and should be respected. The biggest problems arise when the client has no style guide but then feels entitled to criticise your punctuation more or less arbitrarily. The bottom line is to sort out the style rules before y
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The Oxford comma is alive and well, at least in the US. I've just finished translating a book for a publisher in New York who insists on Oxford commas, which is odd in a way because the New York Times doesn't seem to like them!

Still, house styles are house styles and should be respected. The biggest problems arise when the client has no style guide but then feels entitled to criticise your punctuation more or less arbitrarily. The bottom line is to sort out the style rules before you start: if your client has no guide, nominate one yourself and then stick to it.
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Sarah Puchner  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:17
French to English
Chicago Manual of Style (CMS) Jun 30, 2011

The latest edition of CMS (Aug 2010) strongly recommends use of the Oxford comma, so as Giles says, it is still alive and well in the US (for some writers at least).

I will still use it for US clients unless a style guide states otherwise.


 

Neil Coffey  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:17
French to English
+ ...
My "rule"... Jun 30, 2011

Is to include or omit the comma, depending on which seems to convey the intended meaning better in the given context.

If there was ever a pointless punctuation debacle to beat all pointless punctuation debacles, this could be it.


 

F Scott Ophof (X)  Identity Verified
Belize
Local time: 14:17
Dutch to English
+ ...
The recycling of Oxford commas ,,,, Jun 30, 2011

,,,, by using them as a replacements for the dots in the ellipsis,,,,

Neil Coffey wrote:
[My rule] Is to include or omit the comma, depending on which seems to convey the intended meaning better in the given context.

And given that the quantity of 'real rules' for the English language (in any of the gazillion flavo[u]rs), making up one's own rules is as good as any mindset,,,, Meaning, that I, for one, agree with Neil.
Actually, I'd like to see the Oxford comma returned to its glory, though in slightly different form (with its 'dot' not solid, but as a teensie-tiny open circle) and with slightly different meaning (a hard separator of clauses where a regular comma or a semicolon doesn't work, and for those who don't seem to know the semicolon even exists).... [OOPS! ,,,, ]
Neil also wrote:
If there was ever a pointless punctuation debacle to beat all pointless punctuation debacles, this could be it.

Fun, innit?
By the way, have you noticed the increased use of vacuum cleaners in space? To collect the rubbish we're putting out up there?
And, if you think I'm trying to change the subject, you know, you might actually be right!

[Edited at 2011-06-30 17:36 GMT]


 

nekonote  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 05:17
Member (2009)
English to Japanese
+ ...
Agree Jun 30, 2011

Neil Coffey wrote:

Is to include or omit the comma, depending on which seems to convey the intended meaning better in the given context.

If there was ever a pointless punctuation debacle to beat all pointless punctuation debacles, this could be it.


Basically, I don't use "Oxford comma" because it's unecessary (no offence to Americans). However, I believe that the punctuation is, at the end of the day, for readers' sake. Even I use "Oxford comma" and try to avoid "&" in any sentence.

Still, glad to know that there're real professionals here who care about punctuations.


 

Rad Graban  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:17
English to Slovak
+ ...
Different opinion Jun 30, 2011

They haven't changed their authoritative style guide, but they've changed their internal PR department procedures that they use for press releases. The PR department and the editorial department are two different things, so this doesn't necessarily mean much of anything, except that it's maybe a little embarrassing to have your own PR department abandoning your style guide.


http://www.npr.org/blogs/monkeysee/2011/06/30/137525211/going-going-and-gone-no-the-oxford-comma-is-safe-for-now

http://www.csmonitor.com/The-Culture/Latest-News-Wires/2011/0630/Oxford-comma-is-alive-well-and-still-in-use

[Edited to add another link]

[Edited at 2011-06-30 20:44 GMT]


 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 22:17
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
There's some punctuation I like! Jul 1, 2011

nekonote wrote:

Still, glad to know that there're real professionals here who care about punctuations.


Definitely.
And people who bother to speak correctly. I hear there're in my father's fine Bristolian...
I don't think he uses Oxford commas, but as a Greek scholar he still writes the -ize endings in realize etc.

***
But I agree - an Oxford comma is definitely better than using & in a sentence.


 

Michael Wetzel  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 22:17
German to English
no change Jul 1, 2011

As Rad wrote, the article was entirely misleading (and out of date: the "change" took place in September 2009). It relates to the practice of Oxford University and not Oxford University Press and simply makes clear that press releases, for example, should correspond to normal British spelling (French -ise as verb ending and no Oxford commas). Academic texts published by Oxford University Press continue to use Oxford spelling and Oxford commas.

Everyone but OUP seems to omit the Oxfo
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As Rad wrote, the article was entirely misleading (and out of date: the "change" took place in September 2009). It relates to the practice of Oxford University and not Oxford University Press and simply makes clear that press releases, for example, should correspond to normal British spelling (French -ise as verb ending and no Oxford commas). Academic texts published by Oxford University Press continue to use Oxford spelling and Oxford commas.

Everyone but OUP seems to omit the Oxford comma in the UK. In the USA, almost all newspapers (and newspaper style guides) omit it and almost all other publishers (other style guides) keep it.

My opinion on the matter is that:
(1) a simple rule is a good rule
(2) a simple rule is better than no rule (no rule is actually a very complex and ambiguous rule)
(3) BUT: any rule that is ambiguous or produces ambiguity is a bad rule

The Oxford comma is a simple rule, but it does sometimes produce ambiguity that can be avoided by only using a serial comma when it is needed to indicate the intended meaning.

In short, I don't really care about the Oxford comma; I do care that a specific Style Guide is listed in all of my translation briefs.

Sincerely,
Michael
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Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 04:17
Chinese to English
A fie on you all! Jul 1, 2011

Scott Ophof said:

Fun, innit?

No! It's not fun. I mean, if you think its fun to talk about punctuation, do go ahead. But the problem is that it's not harmless. Those acres of red ink Scott was talking about still appear today. They irritated the hell out of me when I was a schoolboy, and they irritate me more now. Not the usage, mark you. I don't care how you use commas, so long as you're clear. But the demagogues who decide that one way is right and another way
... See more
Scott Ophof said:

Fun, innit?

No! It's not fun. I mean, if you think its fun to talk about punctuation, do go ahead. But the problem is that it's not harmless. Those acres of red ink Scott was talking about still appear today. They irritated the hell out of me when I was a schoolboy, and they irritate me more now. Not the usage, mark you. I don't care how you use commas, so long as you're clear. But the demagogues who decide that one way is right and another way is wrong are simply tyrants in teachers' clothing.

Won't you think of the children!
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F Scott Ophof (X)  Identity Verified
Belize
Local time: 14:17
Dutch to English
+ ...
Rules, a fie, and fun (OOPS! Oxford comma!) Jul 1, 2011

Phil Hand wrote:
Scott Ophof said: " Fun, innit?"
No! It's not fun. {....} I don't care how you use commas, so long as you're clear. But the demagogues who decide that one way is right and another way is wrong are simply tyrants in teachers' clothing.
Won't you think of the children!

And:
Michael Wetzel wrote:
My opinion on the matter is that:
(1) a simple rule is a good rule
(2) a simple rule is better than no rule (no rule is actually a very complex and ambiguous rule)
(3) BUT: any rule that is ambiguous or produces ambiguity is a bad rule

Personally, I've always taken 'rules' in grammar as 'rules of thumb', [ir?]regardless of what teachers, so-called 'authorities', and demagogues say/preach/thunder. So in that sense I fully agree with both Phil and Michael--and lots of others. If it's clear, then I feel fine. If not, I grumble.
My ideal would be a grammar based on mathematics; unambiguous. On the other hand, it would make punning so much more difficult! On the third hand,,,, well,,,, how does one say,,,, that I'm simply typing this sentence to 'recycle' Oxford commas? And while I'm at it, wouldn't it be nice to have (semi)colons that were actually visible?
So let's practice discrimination--as defined in Merriam Webster's--and a pox/fie on the irrelevant sections of style guides, and the Army Rule. And YES indeed, let's think of the children!


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 22:17
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
One act of tyranny replaces another one Jul 2, 2011

Phil Hand wrote:
But the demagogues who decide that one way is right and another way is wrong are simply tyrants in teachers' clothing.

The problem here is that language rules are mere conventions. The current rules were agreed upon at some stage, and surely some people thought that imposing them was tyranny. If someone changes the rules you are used to, you will surely feel the same way. Then in due time you forget about it and feel that things are OK... until a new act of tyranny takes place...


 
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