It’s rolled around again, so Happy National Punctuation Day!
My own personal bête noir is the sign in front of a residence: “the Phillip’s.” Problems abound. The last name is Phillips, so there’s the matter of where the apostrophe should go. Plus, more than one person lives in the house, so it should be at a minimum “Phillips’.” Or omit the apostrophe and use “Phillips.”
Good quote: “New Jersey reporter searches for missing apostrophe in Toms River.” Sounds like an Onion headline.
So much for apostrophes, on to commas. In praise of proper stylings, here’s a take from “Holy Writ” by Mary Norris, which appeared in the February 23-March 2 issue of The New Yorker. She was inveighing against dropping the serial or Oxford comma and used these examples:
- “This book is dedicated to my parents, Ayn Rand and God.”
- “… the country and western singer who was joined onstage by his two ex-wives, Kris Kristofferson and Waylon Jennings.”
- “We invited the strippers, J.F.K. and Stalin.” To which someone asked, “who had the better outfit, J.F.K. or Stalin?”
Ms. Norris would be pleased with this headline from the NPD blog: “Punctuation Man breaks with Associated Press, endorses serial comma.”
And for a good laugh, listen to this [ending punctuation omitted on purpose]