The times are a-changing.
We found out last week that the Oxford comma is no longer necessary. And the publishing industry scrambles, adjusting to the new rules.
The Oxford comma is the serial comma. "I went to the dog park with our dogs, Vinnie, and Lucky." In this sentence, you know I took our dogs plus 2 other named creatures (in this case, two non-resident dogs named Vinnie and Lucky). The Oxford comma tells you that Vinnie and Lucky aren't our dogs, but friends who went with us.
Without the Oxford comma, the sentence would read "I went to the dog park with our dogs, Vinnie and Lucky."
OH NO, when did we get two more dogs? No wonder Sophie looks worried...
The Oxford comma isn't named for the Oxford dictionary but for Oxford University. It was used by the writers,editors, and printers at Oxford University Press. Until last week, the Oxford (serial) comma was correct in our 'American English' (per "Eats, Shoots, and Leaves" by Lynn Truss (pg. 84). But several style manuals have ignored the serial comma for years (IE, the AP manual). Even the Brits who don't go to Oxford dislike the serial comma.
So now we are in a quandry. Do Vinnie and Lucky belong to us? Or are they just friends, riding along to the dog park? Does Sophie need to worry about her domain? Can this house stand two more big dogs tromping through the hallways, sleeping on the doggy beds(,) and eating the dog food?
My favorite reason for keeping the Oxford (serial) comma is clarity. When Aunt Bella died, her will stated, "I leave my $5 million dollar estate be divided equally to Betty, Freddie, Barbie, Jim and Susie." Should Jim and Susie be one entity, or are they separate? Is the $5 million to be divided among five or four?
This is serious, folks. Jim and Susie might just be you someday.
Sophie is assured that Vinnie and Lucky are non-resident carpool companions.
But are you sure you'd get your share of $5 million?