The Unadjectivable Superiority of the Oxford Comma #13

In a previous article, I explained how the existence of indefinite lists of items serves as another proof of the Oxford comma’s superiority. In rhetoric, this method of linking items without the use of a conjunction is referred to as asyndeton. This word comes from the Greek prefix a-, meaning “not,” and syndé, meaning “link.” Why does this matter? Because screw you Greek roots are hella important stop judging my run-on sentence.

Anyway, as any professional old white guy can tell you, the construction of the above word leads one to believe that it comes with a counterpart, and it does: polysyndeton. This refers to a list in which many or all of the items are linked with a conjunction. You can find some good examples here, but I prefer breakfast examples as usual:

“I found plates stuffed with tons of pancakes and eggs and waffles and sausages.”

One can also place commas between every two items:

“I found plates stuffed with tons of pancakes, and eggs, and waffles, and sausages.”

This technique is useful not only for elaborate language as above, but also to signify that a character is speaking in a stream of consciousness, thinking up a new item each moment in a manner characteristic of Hinata’s speech.

Polysyndeton is as much a supporter of the Oxford comma as asyndeton. Like Mr. Semicolon, it proves that a comma should logically exist after the penultimate item of a list, because each item, in contrast to a common argument by heathens, is grammatically the same. The “and” or “or” does exist in the previous items, but is omitted by ellipsis. And what if the naysayer decides to go crazy omit the final comma still?

“I found plates stuffed with tons of pancakes, and eggs, and waffles and sausages.”

Now we don’t know whether “waffles and eggs” is/are one item or two. Obviously, this problem is unavoidable with polysyndeton because that “and” mess will remain after any rearrangement.

In short, the infidels want you to believe that the final item of a list is special because it gets an “and” or “or” instead of a comma, but we can prove that that isn’t true by citing asyndeton, which is ellipsis overload, and polysyndeton, which is ellipsis underload. All grammatical items are equal!

OXFORD COMMA 2012

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