Comma Crazy

Say it ain’t so! Sorry. In my outrage, I’ve lapsed into grammatical incorrectness. But I’m beside myself. Yesterday, Jason Boog reported that the Oxford comma, better known as the serial comma, has been dropped—DROPPED, I tell you—by a University of Oxford Writing and Style Guide. To serial comma crazies like me, this is bleak news indeed.

Let me demonstrate. Take this sentence sans serial comma: “I went to the fair with my sisters, Ralph and David.” Hmmm, really? Not unless your sisters names are Ralph and David! Okay, now write this sentence with the serial comma: “I went to the fair with my sisters, Ralph, and David.” Ah, so you hung out with your sisters and Ralph and David. That’s more like it.

Don’t the Oxford gods realize what havoc they are encouraging in this already havoc-filled world? Writing should be sacrosanct; the one area where order, stability, (note serial comma) and clear communication remains!

To be fair, the Oxford gods do make this caveat in their style guide: “But when a comma would assist in the meaning of the sentence or helps to resolve ambiguity, it can be used. . .” Harrumph. Now that conditions have been placed upon the use of the serial comma, we are only one less keystroke away from literary anarchy!

I love the serial comma! I won’t give it up today, tomorrow, (note serial comma!), or EVER!

Book Review: The Glamour of Grammar: A Guide to the Magic and Mystery of Practical English by Roy Peter Clark

What is glamorous about grammar, right? Even I, a self-professed word nerd and lover of all things grammatical, am hard-pressed to glean the glamour in grammar. But Roy Peter Clark explains the purpose behind his titillating title: “Was there ever in the popular imagination a word less glamorous than grammar? But what if I were to tell you that at one time in the history of our language, grammar and glamour were the same word? . . . The bridge between the words . . . is magic.”

 Hooked? Intrigued, maybe? Well, that’s all I’m going to reveal. You must read this “enchanting” book to learn more about Mr. Clark’s grammar tools (Not rules! Yay!) for words, punctuation, writing standards, and the employment of words to convey meaning as well as use toward a noble purpose.

The Glamour of Grammar is no stuffy, eye-glazing tome. Roy Peter Clark’s love for language and its practical application is evident through his conversational, down-to-earth style sprinkled with witty quips and personal anecdotes.

(This review is also posted on