Friday, February 24, 2012

Punctuation, spaces, and that funny Oxford comma


I used to be normal.  Well, I used to be as normal as one could think about being normal.  Not the definition of mathematical normal; rather, I was not abnormal.

There are many who may disagree.  They may be right. 

I was a punctuation grammar hound.  I would review resumes and cover letters, scouring documents for improper apostrophe use, inconsistent noun/verb agreement, and errant paragraphs and fragments.  I was styling.  Or so I thought.

Then I met Modern Farm Wife.   And my life changed forever.

She raised the bar. Made us aware of improper capitalization (we aren't in Germany, she would yell), passive and active voice, ONE SPACE after the period, and that crazy Oxford comma.   We couldn't hit that bar with a pole vault.

Comma, shomma.  I shrugged my shoulders.  But she was relentless.  She would run around the office, alerting us to errors in documents - don't use quotes here, this is the wrong voice, bad word;  let me rephrase this for you, she would say kindly.  When she would say, "let me work on it," you knew you were in trouble.

She was always right.  

The comma was the best.  She would get all animated - hands waving - and say, "it's NOT apples (her voice would get soft) AND PEAR AND BANANAS (in a really loud voice).  You have to have TWO COMMAS.

We all obliged.  We just wanted her to be happy.

We just completed a round of hiring in our office.  Now, we look at application materials and are forever ruined changed.  I look for improper capitalization, passive and active voice, one space after the period, and that elusive Oxford comma.

We laughed and lamented and laughed again; we missed our Modern Farm Wife.  But we handled it all with as much elegance as possible.  She would have been proud.

2 comments:

Jessica said...

"Pears and bananas are NOT friends! They do NOT go together!"

:)

Deirdre Honner said...

NEVER. The AREN'T friends....