Monday, January 27, 2020

In Defence of Coinage

Absolutely nothing about the ongoing Brexit issue has been non-controversial. That apparently includes a commemorative 50p coin bearing the phrase "Peace, prosperity and friendship with all nations". That message demonstrates the UK's desire to be an active participant in global affairs following Brexit. It is also warm and fuzzy.

Philip Pullman, author of the His Dark Materials series, apparently takes issue with the lack of an Oxford comma after the word "prosperity".

"The 'Brexit 50p coin' is missing an Oxford comma, and should be boycotted by all literate people"... "the lack of a comma after 'prosperity' is killing me."

The Oxford comma is, of course, completely optional. The sentence fragment (the phrase does not contain a predicate, which is apparently of no concern to Pullman) is grammatically correct with or without the Oxford comma. The general rule I use is to either include, or omit, the Oxford comma based on the clarity of the sentence. I like the sentence's flow without the Oxford comma.

Is the lack of an Oxford comma offensive, should the sentence be defended as it stands,* or is this entire story further proof that late January is not traditionally a busy time for newspapers?

*This asterisk comes directly after an Oxford comma.

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