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Sweet, Sweet Justice

Did y’all hear? Oakhurst Dairy settled an overtime dispute that “hinged entirely on the lack of an Oxford comma in state law.”

I’ve long held that there’s literally no reason whatsoever to omit the Oxford (or “serial”) comma. I mean, here I am back in 2010 making the case for its preservation.

The New York Times offers a couple of defenses for its anti-Oxford position, only one of which is believable: “[N]ews writing has traditionally omitted the serial comma—perhaps seeking a more rapid feeling in the prose, or perhaps to save time and effort in the old days of manual typesetting.”

Here’s the thing: Ambiguity, the chief result of omitting the Oxford comma (as the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit ruled last week) doesn’t lend itself to “a more rapid feeling in the prose.” You know what does? Clarity. And that, my friends, is what the Oxford comma offers in spades.



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