WHINGE

GIVE ME BACK MY OXFORD COMMA YOU BASTARDS

What is with the beef against the Oxford comma? Seriously, what did it ever do to writers, editors, and readers the English-speaking world over? We live in a world governed by capitalism and populated by hoarders. We must buy more! Get the newest! The latest! More stuff is needed! Unless it’s a comma. All of a sudden, when it comes to punctuation, Australia has decided to go all minimalist. Like having too much punctuation is a bad thing!!!!!!!!!!!!

Okay, that was a joke. But still. This is one comma we’re talking about. One simple, useful comma. A comma that can distinguish between:

There are some topics I will not bring up at my family reunion, including my lovers, Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott.

and

There are some topics I will not bring up at my family reunion, including my lovers, Julia Gillard, and Tony Abbott.

It is a comma that asks only for clarity. It is a comma that has been with us since the beginning of the twentieth century. For over a hundred years it has helped forestall fights, and prevent confusion. It is a comma so respected that for the last forty-odd years it has had the privilege of being known as the Oxford comma. Oxford, people. Oxford. Owing to its use by the Oxford University Press—the largest university press in the world. The press that gave birth to the Oxford English dictionary. The press that is associated with that centuries-old institution of respected learning—the University of Oxford. The place associated with literary genius, including the likes of JRR Tolkien, TS Eliot, Lewis Carroll, CS Lewis, Aldous Huxley, WH Auden, Oscar Wilde, John Donne, and Philip Pullman. If you don’t use the Oxford comma, you’re basically saying a big “f--- you” to literature.

The death of the Oxford comma is the beginning of the end of grammar. The road without the Oxford comma is the road to ruin, or should I say, th rd 2 rn. There will be misunderstandings en masse; confusion will reign.

But what the heck, right? After all, the Americans are doing away with it. We should just be more like them. The moms of this country will make sure their kids recognize the basics of English American along with the importance of YOLO.

JORDI KERR, MELBOURNE

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