The Undoubtable Superiority of the Oxford Comma #11

When delving into the multitudinous possibilities and uncertainties associated with the arrangement of appositions previously, I disregarded another instance in which the absence of an Oxford comma may undesirably mix your shizzle up, one in which even the holy semicolon cannot appease the truly harrowing extent to which your shizzle has, indeed, been mixed up.

Perhaps the greatest perpetrator of vagueness in grammatical lists is an item that consists of two items in itself. No, not more than two, because then it would be clear that the item is a list within a list, and we would have to use a semicolon. I refer to the use of “and” as in “shizzles and giggles.”

But this situation is especially iniquitous when coupled with circumstances that enforce a particular order upon these items, such that rearrangement is not possible.

Exempli gratia:

“The restaurant’s special items for the next three days will be waffles, pancakes and bacon and eggs, respectively.”

In the above sentence, which is clearly one comma too few, we don’t know whether “bacon” is part of the hypothetical item “pancakes and bacon” or “bacon and eggs.” As a breakfast connoisseur such as myself can tell you, both are quite reasonable possibilities. An Oxford comma placed after either pancakes or bacon will, of course, draw the line that should exist.

I normally wouldn’t go into the concept of an enforced order to items, because in cases in which items are only one word long, ambiguity can exist with the Oxford comma as well (though theoretically to a lesser extent than without it, if you will recall). The above case is exceptional, however, in that the existence of an item with an “and” causes ambiguity exclusively without the Oxford comma. If it were merely “waffles, pancakes and bacon,” then everything would be fine, but that is not the case, because I fear for your cardiovascular health.

“Waffles” always gets its own item, though. Especially Belgian waffles.

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Akari Route Translation Complete

Akari route translation complete! All credit to KiritoCy for taking on one of the two Ojou-sama routes in the game.

Below lies a celebratory screenshot dedicated to those who have ever been caught with their pants down, figuratively or literally, while playing through an indecent portion of a visual novel (or any portion of an eroge):

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The Incontrovertible Superiority of the Oxford Comma #10

As mentioned in a certain previous article, the prospect of logicality proves essential to a multitude of grammatical dilemmas. The inherent logic of the Oxford comma, of course, is the reason for which so many arguments can be made in its favor. Also important, however, is that logic itself, not merely its implications.

The first reason for which logicality is significant, as stated in that aforementioned article, is that it promotes unity of the English language. See this image of a colonial-era poster for a few examples:

Some fine fellows took it upon themselves to do away with a number of illogical conventions that appear above, fortunately. We can thank John Bell in particular for the abandonment of the dreadful long s. The unnecessary appendages evident at the end of words such as “fruite” have also, of course, fallen out of usage. These dramatic reforms could only be carried out with the help of the general population’s rationality, their recognition of the fact that such conventions were insensible.

As I’m sure you know, there’s still plenty of work to be done, but my intention has never been to perfect the English language, but to make it suck less.

Anyway, allow me to present another proof to the logicality of the Oxford comma: It accords with the cadence of a list when spoken. When one says, “I woke up, got dressed, and ate my breakfast,” the pause between “dressed” and “and” is of the same length as the one between “up” and “got.” This is because both of those areas contain commas, and one cannot be expected to make a pause where an imaginary comma exists. And, if somebody were to disregard that due pause, it would seem as though “got dressed” and “ate my breakfast” were meant to be combined into one item, like “rock and roll.”

In addition to what I stated above, that this is important because it promotes unity of the English language, this particular aspect is in harmony with a few other grammatical conventions. One’s speech is recorded as it is, not how one wants it to be. For instance, when quoting somebody who makes a grammatical error, the term sic is used, because to do otherwise could give an inaccurate representation of the meaning of that person’s speech in addition to an inaccurate representation of what was actually spoken.

You know who deserves a pat on the back or a Nobel Prize in Literature (somewhere within that range) for a relevant pun? Martha Brockenbrough for her title Things That Make Us (Sic): The Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar Takes on Madison Avenue, Hollywood, The White House, and the World. Incidentally, the Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar-sponsored holiday National Grammar Day is on March 4th. Mark your calendar and stock your arsenal of pedantry.

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Maya Route Translation Complete

Ojou Maya translation has reached 100%. Kudos to Fiddle for persevering during the h-scene portions (which make up roughly 20% of the entire route). One route down, four more to go!

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The Inarguable Superiority of the Oxford Comma #9

Perhaps the most aesthetically displeasing problem with an Oxford comma-less sentence is a list containing merely three words. “Bananas, apples and oranges” appears inherently incorrect because the words clearly aren’t receiving equal attention. However,  you might never have considered that there could be a problem of practicality to this inferior structure as well.

Transition! As with all fine writers, I prefer to follow adverbs and adverbial phrases with a comma when they come at the beginning of a sentence. “Excitedly, Jeff goes to the store,” in my opinion, looks and sounds better than, “Excitedly Jeff goes to the store.” Considering how diverse and complex adverbial phrases can become, the lack of this comma can result in some immediate confusion.

For example, let’s say that the previous sentence didn’t have that comma: “Considering how diverse and complex adverbial phrases can become the lack of this comma can result in some immediate confusion.” A reader’s mind that is of sound linguistic logic would initially read it as though “diverse and complex adverbial phrases” might become “the lack of this comma,” which doesn’t make sense in any regard. Ignoring this due comma can have even more disastrous consequences when things are even more complex, when adjectives and nouns and such get in each other’s business without some punctuation to keep them in their respective private zones.

In fact, problems can arise in simpler instances as well. Going back to the first example, what if the introductory word were one of those reproachful ones that serve as both adjectives and adverbs? “Fast Jeff goes to the store.” “Fast, Jeff goes to the store.”

Now that I’ve justified this incidental stylistic superiority, consider what dreadful consequences might come about if a three-word grammatical list (without the Oxford comma) were to combine with an adverbial phrase at the beginning of a sentence:

“In the midst of chaos, terror and despair were beacons of hope.”

Huh? Chaos and despair certainly don’t sound like beacons of hope. Let’s fix this.

“In the midst of chaos, terror, and despair were beacons of hope.”

Ahh. There were beacons of hope within all this terror, chaos, and despair, I see.

Then again, terror and despair might be useful if you’re an autocratic ruler whose country is falling into chaos.

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The Unmistakable Superiority of the Oxford Comma #8

Perhaps such an important point as this one is overdue, but I’d like to mention the bane of all those grammatical infidels who so tragically fall one comma short: the semicolon.

In case you aren’t familiar with the less prominent rules of the English language, allow me to explain one of the uses of the semicolon. I would like to say that the following is its more common and appropriate use, but many authors, not limited to those of today’s time, take it upon themselves to abuse it as a conjunction.

When one or more items of a list are accompanied by one or more parenthetical expressions (or a mere apposition, or even another list!), a semicolon should replace the comma that separates the items in order to eliminate ambiguity. For example:

“Among the comestibles were apples, which were of the Fuji variety; bananas, a favorite of mine; and oranges, quite orange in color.”

The semicolons should be used not only when all of the items have their own parenthetical expression, but when at least one does. Therefore, the following is also correct:

“Among the comestibles were apples; bananas, a favorite of mine; and oranges.”

Now, one fact immediately comes to mind. Does this rule not corroborate the inherent logic and superiority of the Oxford comma through the placement of the semicolon where a comma would go in a more basic list? Even one who does not use the Oxford comma would express such a sentence as it is above, not as, “Among the comestibles were apples; bananas, a favorite of mine and oranges,” for the latter proves ridiculous by any writer’s standards. Does this validation of correctness not inspire a universal understanding as to the Oxford comma’s preference, such that one scholarly gentleman on one side of the English-speaking world might say, “Should I or should I not place a comma after this penultimate item of my list? Oh! If this list were to contain a parenthetical expression or two, I would be obliged to employ an appropriate quantity of semicolons, so it is well and natural that I should place commas in the corresponding locations,” and another even more scholarly gentleman inhabiting the other side of the English-speaking world might do the same through the same reasoning, thereby establishing an invisible yet essential link among all individuals of fine linguistic education?

It does.

But hold onto your socks, because the semicolon serves another function in proof of the Oxford comma’s supremacy, this being a more practicable one.

Infidels often posit the following or something akin to the following as an argument against the Oxford comma:

“Those at the ceremony were the commodore, the fleet captain, the donor of the cup, Mr. Smith, and Mrs. Jones.”

As I’ve mentioned in a previous article, we do not know, it is argued, whether Mr. Jones is the donor of the cup. However, logic compels those of greater intellect to infer one of two things from the sentence: Mr. Smith is not the donor of the cup, or the writer is so dreadfully incompetent that he does not know how to use semicolons. If Mr. Smith were the donor of the cup, the sentence would be written as follows:

“Those at the ceremony were the commodore; the fleet captain; the donor of the cup, Mr. Smith; and Mrs. Jones.”

Basic reasoning leads us to the converse. If semicolons are not present, Mr. Smith and the donor of the cup are not the same.

Whenever you come to a sentence in which a similar sense of ambiguity exists, you can come to the conclusion that a qualified writer would employ the semicolon where appropriate, or you may otherwise cynically curse the inferior education that so permeates this world void of scholarship whilst you peck at your nonexistent monocle beside your nonexistent shelf of multitudinous nonexistent leather-bound books, as I do.

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The Indubitable Superiority of the Oxford Comma #7

This article shall delve into a petty grumble, the focus of which is not necessarily the clarity of the Oxford comma when used rather than neglected, but the proposition that it should be used with consistency. We all know, however, that when such an earth-shattering matter as the Oxford comma is concerned, a “petty grumble” becomes a momentous declaration.

To begin, review the following sentence, one that humors me to an inordinate and inexplicable degree:

“When he asked ‘What in Heaven?’ she made no reply, up her mind, and a dash for the door.”

This excerpt from “Have Some Madeira M’Dear” might fool the average English speaker, if only for a moment. The mind makes a turn in an intellectual road, believing subconsciously yet with certainty that it is a correct one, then finds itself in a labyrinth constructed by those iniquitous idiomatic expressions with which the word “made” can be used.

The above serves as an example of zeugma.

The immediately above sentence serves as an example of ellipsis. Ellipsis, that mark of punctuation on which The Oxford Comma is Superior Subs pursues a disconcertingly vague policy? No, I’m talking about linguistic ellipsis, in which a word or multiple words are omitted where they are presumably meant. In the preceding one-sentence paragraph, it would more fully be, “The above sentence/excerpt serves as an example of zeugma.”

At this point, perhaps I’m rambling about fun grammatical structures that people should be aware they’re using, but I intend to draw you into the relevant realm of cognitive linguistics. Moving on, the sentence from “Have Some Madeira M’Dear” reminds us that though a sentence can be logically, technically correct in terms of grammar, there are instances in which our minds would be more comfortable with a certain approach.

Naturally, the illogicality of neglecting the Oxford comma is known to be considerably conducive to such cognitive chaos. (Sorry, I sometimes feel the urge to express alliterative clamor when condoned by the current conditions.) When I read such reprehensible sentences as, “I spent my day going to the store, enjoying the convenience of our stable economy and making the subsequent trip home,” my mind, as should that of any linguistically sound thinker, creates a relation between the first two items before at last finishing the sentence to learn that it is one comma insufficient. One who is at a store would enjoy the convenience brought about by a stable economy, correct? Consequently, the sentence could very well have taken a turn by which the second item of this list served rather as an apposition for the first item, as in, “I spent my day going to the store, enjoying the convenience of our stable economy, then did some other shizzle blah blah blah.” If the original sentence were to remain as it is, my mind, conditioned to follow the natural linguistic flow, would incorrectly assume that anything after the “and” is part of the aforementioned theoretical apposition.

This dreadful occurrence may very well force me to reread the entire sentence.

I hate reading.

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Site Update

Seeing as the translation progress has surpassed the 50% marker in the last week, it felt high time that site redesign was due, so here it is. Additional pages have also been added. The information on the “Story” and “Characters” pages was taken and translated from the official Noble Works site. We may tweak and add additional content (such as information on the side characters) in the future.

In the meantime, we will continue to do our best to provide a quality translation for fans of Yuzusoft (and any fans of visual novels and moege in general). Thank you all for your support.

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The Irrefutable Superiority of the Oxford Comma #6

Lynne Truss wrote a book with a rather thought-provoking title (speaking grammatically, of course): “Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation.”  Naturally, the pages within might take you on a perplexing journey of syntactic splendor, compelling you to rethink your life, your family, and your dog.

Truss takes what one might perceive as a neutral approach to the Oxford comma, which is understandable, considering how many inferior individuals she would otherwise lose as customers. She opines, “Sometimes the sentence is improved by including it; sometimes it isn’t.”

Immediately afterward, she cites an example that supports the implementation of the comma. That would be perfectly fine for somebody who is attempting to write about it somewhat objectively. However, this excerpt notably contradicts not only the inferiority of neglecting the Oxford comma, but also the proposition that it is acceptable to switch back and forth between its usage.

“For example, in the introduction of this book I allude to punctuation marks as the traffic signals of language: ‘they tell us to slow down, notice this, take a detour, and stop.’ And, well, I argued for that Oxford comma. It seemed to me that without the comma after ‘detour,’ this was a list of three instructions (the last a double one), not four.”

In the given example, one must note that the items can no longer be rearranged. This is because the actions take place in a certain order.

Why is this significant? Let’s say that the Oxford comma is neglected: “they tell us to slow down, notice this, take a detour and stop.” Let’s also say that the writer abides by the idea that one can switch back and forth between employing and ignoring the Oxford comma.

Well, what does it say now? What if “take a detour and stop” truly are one item? Because we don’t know whether the author uses the Oxford comma, it can be either. If the author consistently does use the Oxford comma, however, we know that “take a detour and stop” is a single item, and that it would be “take a detour, and stop” if they were not.

Notably, Truss continues with a separate argument:

“And here was a case where* the stylistic reasons for its inclusion clearly outweighed the grammatical ones for taking it out. This was a decelerating sentence. The commas were incrementally applying the brakes. To omit the comma after ‘detour’ would have the sentence suddenly coasting at speed again instead of slowing to the final halt.”

*Another bone to pick: Substituting the word “where” for the phrase “in which.” The rest of that paragraph is legit shizzle, though.

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The Unassailable Superiority of the Oxford Comma #5

Those who are familiar with the Japanese language will understand the grammatical value of the term とか.  Jisho defines it as “among other things; such things as; or something like that.” Problems can arise when attempting to use these English phrases, such as unnecessary emphasis or the phrase “or something like that” not fitting into a pretentiously formal context. That’s why there exists an easier way to convey a sense of uncertainty among the items of a list. This method is to neglect the term “and,” “or,” and/or “and/or.”

I apologize in general for that previous sentence.

Anyway, take the following excerpt from the novella Three Sentences I Just Made Up as an example:

“Jeff has prepared quite an assortment of victuals. Macaroni, burgers, bacon. I don’t know where to begin!”

The absence of an “and” before the penultimate item indicates that macaroni, burgers, and bacon are among many items included in Jeff’s appetizing comestibles. This is relevant for two reasons.

First, let’s adjust this sentence to complicate the items:

“Jeff has prepared quite an assortment of victuals. Macaroni and cheese, burgers and fries, bacon and eggs. I don’t know where to begin!”

If the reader doesn’t know whether to expect the Oxford comma, then the above sentence can be read as a definite number of items (the last two being bacon and eggs, discretely) or as an indefinite number of items.

This sentence serves as an example that the Oxford comma must be used always, in contrast to what, say, the inferior MHRA Style Guide dictates: “The comma after the penultimate item may be omitted in books published by the MHRA, as long as the sense is clear.” They’re implying that you can go around ignoring the comma and then use it only when you need it. The Oxford comma ain’t your desperate ex-girlfriend.

As for the second reason, take a common argument against the Oxford comma as worded by Wikipedia:

“It is redundant in a simple list because the and or the or is often meant to serve (by itself) to mark the logical separation between the final two items . . .”

Incorrectamundo! The “and” or “or,” as I’ve explained, does not serve to separate two items. It serves to distinguish a definite list from an indefinite list. In fact, Wikipedia adds the following after whatever disreputable citation from which the first part of the sentence came:

“. . . unless the final two items are not truly separate items but are two parts of a compound single item.”

That is, of course, the concept that I’ve just discussed. In short, there is no logic to neglecting the Oxford comma.

It’s interesting how とか and “and” or “or” play together between Japanese and English. The absence of とか implies a definite list, whereas its presence implies an indefinite list. The absence of “and” or “or” implies an indefinite list, whereas its presence implies a definite list.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that the Oxford comma is superior.

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