It gets its name from the Oxford University Press, so how could this little cousin of the goddess apostrophe be anything but stuffy, boring, and buttoned up? Uh, hello?? It’s a university! In merry old England, no less! Knowledge, old buildings, learning, and British accents. Totally sexy.
Lots of things named Oxford are sexy. How about the Oxford Dictionary? That baby screams sexy because it’s full of my favorite thing – words!
Book, write, stiletto, strawberry, macerate, serendipitous, wine, chocolate – mmmm, so sexy.
There’s even an Oxford shoe. Now that is decidedly sexy. They are like the anti-Hush Puppy, all top stitched and structured and in many cases, shiny. And their heels make that vibrant and sharp click, click, click against a hard floor when the wearer (who, by virtue of their great taste in shoes, must also be sexy) strides with confidence and pride. Oh yes, yes, yes! Sexy.
To top all that off, this particular comma, like its apostrophe cousin, has sparked controversy among grammarians and non-grammarians alike. What prompted the firestorm? Okay, maybe not a storm. Maybe a campfire. A backyard cookout. The flick of a thousand Bics.
According to the Oxford dictionary (and they ought to know), an Oxford comma is “an optional comma before the word ‘and’ at the end of a list.” The debate stems from the optional part. Many want to ban the Oxford comma as unnecessary and useless. Pish posh, I say! Never was there such a useful and wonderful little sweep of the pen.
The Oxford comma brings clarity where needed, prevents ambiguity where its absence could render a sentence misunderstood. Consider this: At the reading of my rich uncle’s will, the lawyer said his entire estate was to be split equally between Julie, Joe and Susie. Woohoo! I get half! Good thing they didn’t put that Oxford comma after Joe, or I’d only get a third.
Rush Limbaugh introduced me to two of his ex-wives, Kirk Cameron and Stephen Baldwin. Gee, I’d heard they didn’t support that kind of thing. Oh, wait. I missed a little punctuation before ‘and.’ Drop that Oxford comma in there and voila, they’re back to their backwards selves.
So long live the Oxford comma.
And for the final word on this sexy beast – Vampire Weekend recorded a song about it (well, not “about” it, but named for it), so it must be sexy! With lyrics like “who gives a f@(k about an Oxford comma?” they clearly don’t share my support of the little darling, but still – sexy, no?