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Re: RFS: logapp

On Aug 16, 2007, at 2:42 PM, Neil Williams wrote:

On Thu, 16 Aug 2007 13:06:48 +0200
martin f krafft <madduck@debian.org> wrote:

(e.g. make, CVS, and Subversion)
I don't know how this exactly works in english, but in German it's quite
forbidden to use a colon before "and".

It's correct to use a comma before "and" even in British English.

In American English, it is nearly required. In fact, the comma before the 'and' is called the Oxford comma or serial comma. The purpose is to show that the last two items should not be conceived of as one. For example; "The Spanish, the Greek, Italians and French held a party." This would seem to conflate the Italians and the French as a single unit - that is a perilous gambit. Better to write it so: "The Spanish, the Greek, the Italians, and the French held a party."

I think this is the rule for British English as well.

Depending on context, yes. In a list where all items are the same
level, a comma before 'and' is poor grammar, albeit not necessarily 'wrong':

My bag contains juicy apples, pears, oranges, and lemons.
should be
My bag contains juicy apples, pears, oranges and lemons.
My bag contains juicy apples, pears and oranges, and rotten lemons.

(In the original, inserting the comma introduces an ambiguity about
whether the lemons are juicy. This ambiguity is exploited in en_GB
marketing but that usage doesn't validate the poor use of grammar when
the writer is not trying to deceive the reader. Note the extra 'and'
added prior to the comma in the alternative.)

Where there is grouping within the list, a comma can be used:
My bag contains juicy apples, pears and oranges, and vegetables.

(Again another 'and' has been added. Most people would not describe
vegetables as juicy so the ambiguity is not present and the comma
indicates the break in the descriptive list.)


Neil Williams

Jeremiah Foster
Key fingerprint = 9616 2AD3 3AE0 502C BD75  65ED BDC3 0D44 2F5A E672

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