Saturday, March 18, 2017

The Oxford Comma

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The preceding address links to a news story involving a contract dispute regarding overtime wages. It appears that the dispute will be resolved in favor of the workers being paid collectively a hefty sum in overtime wages. at the root of the dispute is the absence of an Oxford comma. Had the comma been present, the meaning of the sentence would have been altered. I'm not a huge fan of grammar and English usage pet peeves, but if I were to become one, the place I would start would be in favor of the Oxford comma.

One reason I chose medicine over lae as a course of study is that I did not want to be involved in writing or reading lengthy missives in which the presence or absence of a comma would be the deciding factor. Attention to detail is necessary in the study of medicine as well, but it doesn't seem quite so nit-picky to have to spend so much time going over a CT scan to ensure nothing of importance is missed as it does to pore over every sentence to ensure that all commas are properly placed. 

I'm a fan of the Oxford comma. When it isn't used, at the very least a reader may have to read a sentence twice to ensure it was correctly interpreted. in other cases, the meaning is clearly altered by inclusion or omission of the final comma before a conjunction in a list.  My own preferences notwithstanding, and whether or not anyone else is or isn't a fan of using a comma before the conjunction in a series, if its omission leaves a sentence open to interpretation, is should be used. In the case of this particular corporation, not using it was sloppy writing at the very least, and it appears that the lack of clarification afforded by the non-use of the Oxford comma is going to bite an employer in the bank account. C'est la vie.

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