The Oxford Comma

If a white person were to catch a mistake in The New Yorker, it would be a sufficient reason for a large party

The Oxford Comma has had an undue amount of press lately. It is, after all, just a humble punctuation mark. It’s not even as exciting at the semi-colon, to say nothing of something like the double dash. But all of a sudden, it’s a media darling.

The thing is, I could never really be upset about punctuation getting attention. I’m a big fan of punctuation – really big. I spend a lot of time thinking about these things. The artful use of ellipses, or actually remembering to use a semi-colon instead of comma splicing, is the kind of thing I actualy rank highly in a potential boyfriend. What pisses me off about the Oxford comma’s dizzying climb to fame is not that it doesn’t deserve it – believe me, it does – but that I got there first.

I’ve been a fan of the Oxford comma (for those who don’t know, it’s the optional comma before the terminal and in a list) for a long time. Sort of the way I knew about John Mayer when he had only released a few online tracks and was not yet embarrassing. Or how I’m about 75% certain that I was into The Magnetic Fields before you were. Unless you are my brother, in which case, you definitely got there first. And, if we’re going to be perfectly honest, Ruth got to Mayer first. So all I really have going for me is grammar.

In fact, the amazing thing about the Oxford Comma’s climb to fame is that it’s had the same effect on the comma itself as it has on Vampire Weekend, the band behind its sudden heady popularity. I swear, a few months ago, no one had heard that song. I swear there was a brief period where outside New York I was the only one who was really excited about the idea that there was a pop song about punctuation. (Even if I do disagree with them; I, for one, absoultely give a fuck about an Oxford comma.) It’s something the world hasn’t seen since Better than Ezra covered Conjunction Junction.

Which is all a really long winded way of introducing the link I wrote post for in the first place. Because rarely has Stuff White People Like so ruthlessly pinned me to the wall as a wasp. There’s only one thing I would contend on this post: there is no longer anything obscure about the Oxford Comma.


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