I’m apt to agree with Vampire Weekend after tonight (fyi, if you want to suddenly Google Vampire Weekend’s “Oxford Comma” lyrics because you don’t know them, there’s … grown-up language, which is why I didn’t post them directly here. This is mostly for the benefit of my mother.)
I joke with my friends that I am the grammar snob about whom your mother warned you, but to be honest, I have little to no basis for the claim. I did copyediting for an internship back in college, but … that was six years ago. And things change in the writing world, practically on a daily basis, or so it seems to me, so there’s the possibility that EVERYTHING I DID six years ago is no longer relevant (this is unlikely). I’m like a food snob who doesn’t actually prepare his/her own food. [As an aside, I recently read an online review of a local sushi restaurant in which the individual wrote “There is a preponderance of avacado (sic) … “, and I wanted to punch that person in the face. Seriously — don’t use a word like preponderance and then misspell avocado, but even more seriously, don’t be a snobby online food reviewer in Utah county.]
And, for some reason not entirely clear to me, everyone in my work office takes my word when it comes to all things editing based. I should qualify that statement with the fact that there are only four of us, and that’s including a student employee, but still. My boss even called me “more of an expert on Chicago than [him]” today, to which I had to stifle a whole lot of laughter.
But I’m a confessional kid by nature, and I admitted that really, all I know about Chicago, or grammar and punctuation in general, is entirely thanks to my best friend, Shadra (who you should be hiring to be your professional editor before she is so swamped that you can only read about her and wish you’d done something sooner). The woman is a grammar genius and not snobby about it. Not one bit. She just knows stuff, you guys. And since I regularly read her syntactically sustaining blog, you’d think I’d, oh, I don’t know, retain information.
The irony of tonight’s experience (please, Shadra, tell me I used “irony” correctly … even if I didn’t) is that I am actually a huge proponent of the Oxford comma. And before this sparks up an enormous online debate, let’s all just calm down and realize to each her own. I like it. I understand why some people don’t. But I had it in my head that the Chicago Manual of Style doesn’t use the Oxford comma, so, while editing several manuscripts for work, I crossed them all out.
All of them. All of the Oxford commas in almost all of the eleven manuscripts that are all about thirty-fifty pages each.
Because I’m awesome.
I don’t know what spurned me to go back and double-check my assumption against Shadra’s blog, but I suppose in the long run it was a good thing because I only messed up, like, seven of the manuscripts. (That’s a good thing … right? Right!?) But of course there was that inevitable pit-in-the-stomach feeling of death that followed when I discovered that, in fact, Chicago TOTALLY uses the Oxford comma. *sobs*
I think there’s the chance that boss man will no longer consider me an expert on Chicago.