Do Grammar Rules Like the Oxford Comma Really Matter?
Top of Mind with Julie Rose - Radio Archive, Episode 514 , Segment 1
Episode: Grammar Rules, Space Poop, Mercies in Disguise
- Mar 21, 2017 11:00 pm
- 18:09 mins
Guest: Don Chapman, PhD, Professor of Linguistics and English, BYU Yes, we’re taking a break from the barrage of news coming out of Washington to spend some time on a topic that has the ability to get people worked up to a surprising degree. On that score, the Oxford Comma is on our minds. Also known as the “serial comma,” it’s the little squiggle that either definitely belongs before the “and” in a list of more than three things or not. “Make a sandwich with bread, jelly and peanut butter.” Does a comma belong after jelly, or does the “and” suffice to make the point that you’re listing things? In case you haven’t heard, last week, this seemingly pointless argument made the difference in a class action lawsuit brought by some dairy truck drivers who were suing for overtime pay. In this case, the lack of a comma in Maine law regarding which activities can be paid overtime and which can’t, left enough ambiguity that the appeals court ruled the dairy truck drivers should get overtime pay. That one missing comma could cost the dairy company $10 million. Fans of the Oxford Comma rejoiced!