Whew. I was beginning to think I was never going to be able to answer a Daily Prompt again. On the subject of punctuation, I have to say I’m rather fastidious about it. I’m fastidious about all things grammatical, if only because one of my biggest pet peeves in all the world is incoherent babble. I see it most often online, sometimes in text messages. The biggest two culprits I’ve found are Twitter and e-mail. I don’t know what it is that keeps people from spelling words properly or using proper punctuation, but there are times I’d like to reach through the screen and slap them because I can’t understand a word they’re saying. Now, here is where I’m going to lose a lot of people I think — I am a proponent of the Oxford comma. What is the Oxford comma, you ask? Well, it’s when you put a comma after the last item in a list, before the word “and.” I’ll give you an example:
“Shelly, Karen, and Beth are going to the movies.”
Most people are taught not to put a comma after Karen, just one after Shelly. Well, not me. The reason being is sometimes it’s necessary to differentiate between a group of people and specific people. The well known example is this: “We invited the strippers, JFK, and Stalin to the party.” Without the Oxford comma, the sentence reads thusly: “We invited the strippers, JFK and Stalin to the party.” It makes it sound like the strippers are JFK and Stalin, which while admittedly hilarious, is incorrect. JFK and Stalin are merely invitees to the party along with the strippers, not the strippers themselves. The lack of a comma after JFK makes the meaning of the sentence ambiguous.
So, yeah. That’s my punctuation quirk. I rally in support of the Oxford comma. I think it looks neater and cleaner.