A Win for the Oxford Comma

Image from CNN Article by AJ Willingham

          This CNN article appeared on a friend's Facebook feed so here, somewhere in the fringes of the Philippines gloats an Oxford comma fan.

          A Judge in Maine ruled in favor of drivers based on the ambiguity of a labor law.  It is a principle in Labor law that any ambiguity shall be decided in favor of laborers.

          '"For want of a comma, we have this case," the judge wrote.'

          I have always felt compelled to use the Oxford comma because it is logical and it eliminate ambiguities, hence, ends debates and lingering issues.

          For those who do not know, or up to this point, never cared what this is -- an Oxford comma is that comma inserted between the second to the last and the last item in an enumeration.  It is dropped for stylistic and practical reasons by most people (I suppose in the US) but I always had the bent toward it's logic and utility.  

          "Dropping a silly comma won't hurt", some may say, but this labor case seems to speak for itself.

          The CNN article also gives an excellent example of the Oxford comma:

Oxford Comma:  We invited the strippers, JFK, and Stalin.
AP Style:               We invited the strippers, JFK and Stalin.

          "The comma between JFK and Stalin is the Oxford comma.
          Proponents say it helps eliminate ambiguity. (For instance, without the Oxford comma above, would that mean JFK and Stalin were the strippers?)
          Critics say it is just cumbersome."
          I have always believed "form follows function".  Function is king.  Form follows.  A single comma is not cumbersome or ugly when it eliminates an ambiguity.  In a lot of cases it may not matter, but in some cases, especially in law where everything has to be precise, like in this labor case, then that single mark can win you your overtime pay.

          Now who could send me a court ruling on punctuation marks in quoted text? :-)

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