Thursday, March 12, 2009

"Who gives a fuck about an Oxford comma?"

Two suspiciously similarly worded news reports carry the grim news about two suspiciously similar cities, Portland and Seattle: we are not very "manly." Both stories report that

According to a study by Sperling’s Best Places, Nashville, Tenn., is America’s most manly city. In the rankings, cities scored higher based on the number of sports teams they have, the number of hardware stores, the number of tools purchased and the frequency of monster truck rallies. Cities lost points based on their number of home furnishing stores, high minivan sales and subscription rates to beauty magazines.

New York City ranked at the bottom of the list, based on low scores including lack of fishing and drag racing opportunities.
Actually, that's overstating the similarities between the two news stories, in that the Seattle version includes an Oxford comma between "tools purchased" and "and the frequency," whereas the Portland story does not. The Seattle version went on to expose its lackadaisical commitment to the Oxford comma by matching the Portland version's comma-less-ness between "minivan sales" and "and subscription rates." All of which constitutes evidence in favor of wikipedia's despairing conclusion that "there is no global consensus among writers or editors on the use of the serial [Oxford] comma." I am for, against, and neutral on it; which is to say I embrace, reject and ignore its use.

None of which should confuse the fact, if it is a fact, that Vampire Weekend's "Oxford Comma" is a catchy little song that we'll all be thoroughly sick of hearing within a short while, if indeed we're not already.

Portland ranks 47th and Seattle ranks 40th on the "manliness" scale. To be candid, I am surprised we didn't rank lower given the way we sometimes dwell on grammar here in Cascadia. In any case, I certainly do not want to be manly if it means fewer minivans to ridicule, more monster truck rallies, and more sports teams that cannot pay their own way.


Sis B said...

I give a shit, a rat's ass and two flying fucks about the Oxford comma. I think it is WRONG. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

Just last week I was yelling at my computer about this very subject.

I kind of wish I was kidding, but I'll embrace my nerdliness instead.

larryniven said...

"I am for, against, and neutral on it; which is to say I embrace, reject and ignore its use."

Nicely done.

The Wife said...

I didn't know it was called "Oxford comma" until today - though I admit I've been hating this stylistic aberration (in a Sis B kind of way) for a long time. I thought it was one of those stupidities the poor Americans had thrust upon them by mad Noah Webster.

Incidentally, I don't believe OUP still uses the "OC" in its publications. One has to be thankful for small mercies.

Dale said...

Sis B, LN, The Wife, thanks for the comments. I do hope everyone realizes that my title is just borrowing from the Vampire Weekend song. There is nothing in the Oxford comma/Harvard comma/serial comma "controversy" that would, itself, inspire me to trot out the f-bomb. The lyricist of Vampire Weekend evidently sees it differently.