Eats, shoots and leaves

Quartz Obsession today speaks about the hill I would gladly die on: Oxford comma. In the master stylesheet where I list down grammatical technicalities to check as I edit documents, along with ‘replace dashes with em dashes wherever possible’ is to ‘check for the possibility of Oxford comma’. Turns out, I am not alone — a lot of people are just as passionate about it as much as I do. Just like a lot of causes, Oxford comma — also called as serial comma — divides people into two camps: those for and against, those who think it’s sufficient vs those who think it cramps up writing style, Harvard & Oxford vs Associated Press — it even created a divide among dating apps users, almost a social signifier. There’s also a Twitter account, and musicians such as Vampire Weekend were inspired to create a song expressing their disdain towards Oxford commas. “The song is more about not giving a fuck than about Oxford commas,” the band’s lead singer Ezra Koenig said.

But as someone who learns throughout the years that striving to be grammatically correct is synonymous with reflection of my privileges — for example I have the educational luxury to go through a decent school system where I had all the resources to apply and practise what I learned, I have the financial luxury to be able to afford all these resources to learn them, I am able-bodied mentally and physically to learn language and other matters at a normal pace and not hindered by any disabilities, and many more privileges I have overlooked and must recognise — as long as what it’s written is clear enough for us and our readers, then Oxford comma or no comma, does it really matter?

It’s about intent and clarity. Use the Oxford comma or don’t use it; just make sure you’re not creating overtime work for someone to figure it all out.

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