I’m Like Totally Down With the Serial Comma

by wjw on September 25, 2008

“To my parents, Mother Teresa and Pope John Paul II.”

That book dedication is acceptible according to the AP style sheet, but not by me.

This sentence cost a Canadian company over $2 million:

“[This agreement] shall continue in force for a period of five years from the date it is made, and thereafter for successive five year terms, unless and until terminated by one year prior notice in writing by either party.”

All of which is by way of saying,

Happy National Punctuation Day!

robp September 25, 2008 at 3:32 am

So long as you were sired by the Pope and Mother Teresa it’s fine by me as well. Which is how I read it, and I bought a copy of the AP style book specifically for guidance on matters such as these. Now it turns out I should be checking with you instead. I don’t like commas in general but when their absence changes the meaning of the sentence just maybe they should be there.

Maybe the book dedication is by Philip Roth in the book where he assails Catholicism (although as it’s not part of his upbringing he probably has nothing against it).


halojones-fan September 25, 2008 at 6:01 am

I always liked “I’d like to thank my parents, God and Barbara Streisand.”

Or “Next week’s guests will be Isaac Asimov, a street musician and a dildo collector.”

Michael Bernstein September 27, 2008 at 10:58 pm

halojones-fan: Your second example is disambiguated by the plural ‘guests’.

Ken Houghton September 29, 2008 at 6:14 pm

No it’s not. Street musician Isaac Asimov and a dildo collector are still “guests.”

Oh, you mean there are three people guesting?

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