Re: [Fwd: Re: Proper use of commas in England?]

Subject: Re: [Fwd: Re: Proper use of commas in England?]
From: Tony Lupton <lupton -at- CITR -dot- UQ -dot- OZ -dot- AU>
Date: Fri, 1 Dec 1995 09:14:13 -0500

Matt Ion wrote in response to Katherine Pyle:

> >In the USA, it is currently acceptable to either include or omit a comma
> >just before the "and" at the end of a string of named items. For example:
> >
> > A complete computer package includes a CPU, a keyboard, and a mouse.
> >
> > A complete computer package includes a CPU, a keyboard and a mouse.
> >
> >I have been recently told (quite forcefully) that the final comma MUST BE
> >OMITTED in documentation that is going to be used in England . . . that
> >such a comma is totally UNacceptable there.
> >
> >Is this true, or do I just have someone trying to impose his personal
> >preference on me?

> I know that here in Canada, we were always taught to omit the last comma.

Similar situation here in Australia. We also have the flexibility that the
Canadians have, but we haven't yet espoused US spelling.

Anyhow, Fowler has this to say on the use of the comma in enumerations:

The more usual way of punctuating such an enumeration as was used as
an example in the preceding sections is "French, German, Italian and
Spanish": the commas between French and German and German and Italian
take the place of ands; there is no comma after Italian because, with
and, it would be otiose [superfluous]. There are, however, some who
favour putting one there, arguing that, since it may sometimes be
needed to avoid ambiguity, it may as well be used always for the sake
of uniformity. Example of sentences calling for a comma before the
and are: "Tenders were submitted by John Brown, Cammel Laird,
Vickers, and Harland and Wolff." Without the comma after Vickers we
do not know whether the tendering firms were four or five, or, if
they were four, whether Harland partners Vickers or Wolff./ "The
smooth grey of the beech stem, the silky texture of the birch, and
the rugged pine." If there is no comma after birch, the pine is given
a silky texture. The use of a comma before the and is here

Food for thought.


Tony Lupton * Email: t -dot- lupton -at- citr -dot- uq -dot- oz -dot- au
CiTR Pty Ltd * * Phone: +61 7 3367 0865
339 Coronation Drive * Fax : +61 7 3367 0441
Milton Qld 4064
Australia *

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