The following is an excerpt from OpinionJournal.com’s “Best of the Web” written by the editor, James Taranto.
Question and Answer
News You Can Use
“This Christmas Season, Consider Becoming a ‘Santa Truther’ “–headline, National Review Online, Dec. 11
Bottom Stories of the Day
The Pause That Confuses
From the Washington Times:
Britain’s Sky News posted this bulletin about the Nelson Mandela memorial service at 6:36 p.m. London time Tuesday: “Top stories: World leaders at Mandela tribute, Obama-Castro handshake and same-sex marriage date set.”
The prospect of a wedding between the two leaders got the Twitterverse tweeting.
“This is why the Oxford comma exists!” said Carole Blake, a literary agent in London.
The Oxford comma, also known as a serial comma, refers to the practice of putting a comma between the penultimate item in a list and the conjunction that ties together the list. The Wall Street Journal doesn’t use the serial comma, so we would write “X, Y and Z.” The Oxford High Street Journal, by contrast, would write “X, Y, and zed.”
The Sky News tweet could have used an Oxford comma, but making it a rule creates problems of its own. Years ago when we worked on the Journal’s op-ed desk, we received a submission from a writer who argued that the Oxford comma should be universally adopted so as to avoid ambiguities. We wrote back: “My boss, Max Boot, and I find your argument unpersuasive. Do two or three people find it unpersuasive?”
Of course the question would really be a stumper if we’d written the preceding sentence in the first-person plural.
For more “Best of the Web” click here and look for the “Best of the Web Today” link in the middle column below “Today’s Columnists.”