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The enduring divisiveness of the serial comma 
24th-Oct-2013 12:24 pm
long words
Had an engineer drop by my office to ask me to explain why we use "extra commas". So, I gave him a brief rundown of the rationale of why our house style uses the serial comma, and as an illustration, showed him that famous (possibly apocryphal) book dedication: "To my parents, God and Ayn Rand."

He was so delighted with this that he wrote it down on a post-it note. "But who is Ayn Rand?" he asked.

Struggling for a concise summation of Rand's place in literary history, I replied, "Well, she wrote two very enormous novels that are basically about why capitalism is great and communism is terrible. But I don't really recommend reading them."

He laughed. "I won't. I come from a communist country - I don't need to read what anyone else thinks about it."
24th-Oct-2013 08:06 pm (UTC)
"Divisiveness"? It sounds like it brought you two closer!

And notice, just as an aside, that at least informally I fall on the non-American side of the "punctuation on the inside/outside of quotation marks" divisiveness. :-)
25th-Oct-2013 08:24 pm (UTC)
Ah, yes, the quotation marks debate. I prefer the American style for complete sentences and dialogue in fiction, but often find that the non-American style looks better to me for sentence fragments. Which I guess leaves me suspended over the Atlantic without a style guide to rely on.
25th-Oct-2013 11:18 pm (UTC)
The latest version I've seen is "I love cooking, puppies and my parents."

And I had to go back and take out the comma that I'd put in reflexively.
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