The Oxford/Harvard comma

in reality, all of this has been a total load of old bollocks
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Carlsson
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The Oxford/Harvard comma

Postby Carlsson » 30 Jan 2020, 09:08

Daily Mail wrote:Author Philip Pullman complained the new Brexit 50p coin is missing an Oxford comma.

The 73-year-old novelist told his [Twitter] followers the commemorative Brexit coin should be 'boycotted by all literate people' because it is missing the 'correct' punctuation.

The coin reads: 'Peace, prosperity and friendship with all nations', followed by Friday's date - when Britain will officially leave the European Union.

He implied the 50 piece should instead read: 'Peace, prosperity, and friendship', with the Oxford comma used before the 'and' to make clear the three components of the list are separate.



More detail on Wiki:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serial_comma

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Rorschach
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Re: The Oxford/Harvard comma

Postby Rorschach » 30 Jan 2020, 09:49

I believe he's right that this inscription needs a comma but I don't think it's the same as the Oxford comma. Trouble is, I'm not sure what the Oxford comma is; people talk so much bollocks about it that it seems hard to define.

I'll explain more about it when I have more time.
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Carlsson
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Re: The Oxford/Harvard comma

Postby Carlsson » 30 Jan 2020, 10:23

I thought the resolving/creating/unresolved ambiguity within the Wiki article was interesting

I particularly enjoyed this;

These forms (among others) would resolve/remove the ambiguity:

One person
They went to Oregon with Betty, who was a maid and a cook.
They went to Oregon with Betty, both a maid and a cook.
They went to Oregon with Betty (a maid and cook).
They went to Oregon with Betty, their maid and cook.

Two people
They went to Oregon with Betty (a maid) and a cook.
They went to Oregon with Betty – a maid – and a cook.
They went to Oregon with Betty, a maid, and with a cook.
They went to Oregon with the maid Betty and a cook.
They went to Oregon with a cook and Betty, a maid.

Three people
They went to Oregon with Betty, as well as a maid and a cook.
They went to Oregon with Betty and a maid and a cook.
They went to Oregon with Betty, one maid and a cook.
They went to Oregon with a maid, a cook, and Betty.
They went with Betty to Oregon with a maid and a cook






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Robert
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Re: The Oxford/Harvard comma

Postby Robert » 30 Jan 2020, 12:37

According to Internet, this is indeed the Oxford comma missing.

I use sentences like this a lot in the reports I write and intuitively I usually skip the final ( Oxford) comma. MS Word however always corrects
this by suggesting to put in that comma.

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Rorschach
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Re: The Oxford/Harvard comma

Postby Rorschach » 30 Jan 2020, 13:13

Robert wrote:According to Internet, this is indeed the Oxford comma missing.


I've seen explanations of the Oxford commas just being used with lists of three or more, which isn't what's happening in this case.

The Daily Mail wrote:He implied the 50 piece should instead read: 'Peace, prosperity, and friendship', with the Oxford comma used before the 'and' to make clear the three components of the list are separate.


I don't imagine anyone here has a high opinion of the politics of the Daily Mail but they should at least have learned punctuation at journalism school. They seem not to understand what he was talking about.

The full phrase on the coin is "Peace, prosperity and friendship with all nations", which can be read as meaning: "Peace with all nations, prosperity with all nations and friendship with all nations". "Prosperity with all nations" isn't good English so we need to show that the "with all nations" part only applies to "friendship". The easy way to do this is to put a comma after "prosperity".

Just adding a comma before 'and' in any old list is a load of bollocks as far as I'm concerned but, in this case, it makes the phrase clearer and more elegant.
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The Modernist
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Re: The Oxford/Harvard comma

Postby The Modernist » 30 Jan 2020, 13:18

I don't think stuff like this matters at all. Language evolves and has to be user friendly.

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Rorschach
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Re: The Oxford/Harvard comma

Postby Rorschach » 30 Jan 2020, 13:30

The Modernist wrote:Language evolves and has to be user friendly.


I doubt anyone would disagree, but what's it got to do with this example?
Last edited by Rorschach on 30 Jan 2020, 20:07, edited 1 time in total.
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GoogaMooga
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Re: The Oxford/Harvard comma

Postby GoogaMooga » 30 Jan 2020, 16:19

I insist on Oxford comma. But we don't use it in Danish. Still I insist.
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harvey k-tel
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Re: The Oxford/Harvard comma

Postby harvey k-tel » 30 Jan 2020, 17:25

Maybe they did it so that old windbags like Pullman wouldn't have a chance to breathe.
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Carlsson
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Re: The Oxford/Harvard comma

Postby Carlsson » 04 Feb 2020, 22:06

My son in Year 11 says he always uses it, was familiar with the term and understood it's usage.

I told him I was impressed





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