Good morning, duckies! As we know, one of the important aspects of style is movement; the drape, line, and flow of a particular piece. The term also has more serious connotations. It conjures up visions of heated debates, yard signs, and letters to officials.
There is such a movement underway now. It has staunch supporters and ardent opposition, and has inspired many people to duck their heads and wait for it to blow over.
I am speaking, of course, about the Oxford comma.
In the writing and editing world, the Oxford, or serial, comma is a polarizing agent. Clever memes and profanity-laced dismissals abound on both sides of the argument. As with the topic of mixing polka dots with plaid, one must tread lightly. Adherents for or against are rarely swayed by shouting and insults. Indeed, even logic fails to prevail at times.
The CMOS states plainly that, “When a conjunction joins the last two elements in a series of three or more, a comma … should appear before the conjunction.”
While your Maven agrees with this directive, others are calling not only for the retirement of the Oxford comma, but for the possible scrapping of the CMOS itself. Horrors!
On the other hand, as our society evolves and grows, so must our language. I delight in my little black cocktail dress, but I would surely shudder at the thought of being strapped into a corset and crinolines on a daily basis. A touch of nostalgia is fine, but a backward movement advances no one.