The Oxford Freakin’ Comma

By Jessie Owensby
Features Editor

The Oxford comma is the comma that precedes the conjunction before the final item in a list of three or more
items.
Okay, let’s talk about the Oxford comma. For as long as I remember, America used it.
Growing up, I was always taught in school to use the Oxford comma, because if I didn’t, my sentence would
not make sense. We learned this at such an early age, and it was literally pounded into my head my entire
elementary school career.
Now all of a sudden, it is no longer kosher to use it. Will someone please tell me why? Why, after all this time,
has some professor sitting in an office somewhere, decided that it’s no longer necessary in our language?
For those that do not know what the Oxford comma is, or why I am even making such a big deal about it,
please, let me give you some examples:
1. “This book is dedicated to my parents, Ayn Rand and God.”
First, if you don’t know who Ayn Rand is, you should read more. Secondly, this sentence implies that my
parents are Ayn Rand and God. With the Oxford comma in use, it clarifies that I am actually thanking four
different people. It looks like this: “This book is dedicated to my parents, Ayn Rand, and God. Which way will
you choose? Are God and Ayn Rand really your parents? If so, I would like to meet you.
2. One incredibly popular case for the Oxford comma that is on the internet, is a direct quote from The Times
newspaper, talking about a Peter Ustinov documentary. It said, “Highlights of his global tour include
encounters with Nelson Mandela, an 800-year-old demigod and a dildo collector.” Really? How disrespectful to
the late great inspiration to people everywhere, Nelson Mandela.
The man would turn in his grave if he knew that people were publishing such horrible lies about him.
Shouldn’t we add that extra comma to clarify that he was talking about three different people, not solely Nelson
Mandela?
Yes, I think so, too. “Highlights of his global tour include encounters with Nelson Mandela, an 800-year-old
demigod, and a dildo collector.” This lets the reader know that we are not saying things about Mandela that are
simply not true.
As you all will notice now more than ever, the Navigator has chosen to drop the Oxford comma. However, if
you happen to see a little extra one in the Features section, trust me, it was a total accident, and I did not in any
way sneak it in there on purpose so the sentence would make sense. I promise!