16 March 2017

The Oxford comma wins its day in court

I've been a strong supporter of the Oxford comma for many years now and have often attempted to sway its detractors toward favoring its use, sometimes through memes such as this:

As you can see, the clarity added by the inclusion of the Oxford comma - sometimes called the serial comma - can be rather helpful. The use of the Oxford comma can also be of great importance, as the Honorable David J. Barron, a Judge for the United States Court of Appeals of the First Circuit - recently decided.

Boston Magazine reports the comma controversy as follows:
Delivery drivers for Oakhurst Dairy won their suit against the Portland milk and cream company, after a U.S. court of appeals found that the wording of Maine’s overtime rules were written ambiguously. Per state law, the following activities are not eligible for overtime pay: 
The canning, processing, preserving,freezing, drying, marketing, storing,packing for shipment or distribution of:(1) Agricultural produce;(2) Meat and fish products; and(3) Perishable foods. 
Oakhurst argued that “distribution of” was separate from “packing for shipment,” which would allow the company to claim exemption from paying its delivery drivers over time.

Clearly, Oakhurst's interpretation is incorrect, as even the civil courts now recognize. Long live the Oxford comma!

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