Reading news can be a dangerous thing. Horrible stories abound and good news seems to come around rarely (or gets taken for granted enough that it doesn’t get publicized), so when you have the chance to read a story that ultimately isn’t really that big a deal, it can be kind of refreshing. Still, sometimes you’ll catch a headline that just shakes you to the very core. Like this one, from Galleycat:
Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo! Rest easy, serial comma fans, because it turns out that was just from the U of Oxford PR department. The Oxford comma is still in favor in Oxford after all—or at least from the part that gets to make these calls. Nonetheless, I was deeply saddened. I know plenty of people have good reasons for hating the serial comma. I know I’m an over-comma-er. My mother was a newspaper editor when I was growing up, so I’ve heard it all before. I think serial commas are clearer, and they please me aesthetically. Sometimes it means the difference between saying what you want to say and saying something much more amusing. They’re not always strictly necessary, but I can’t support a rule that says “only use this if you think people might get confused if you don’t,” because I think people rarely recognize when the things they are saying can be interpreted more than one way. I like consistency. You can have my serial comma when you pry it from my cold dead hands. Or you can have it in this sentence where it’s helpful, pleasing, and attractive. See? Wasn’t that nice?
The other somewhat outdated stylistic choice I cling to is two spaces after a period. You’ll likely note that these sentences are followed by single spaces. And that’s true as you’re reading them, but not as I’m writing them, because the designers of HTML are trying to hurt my soul. I’ve heard the answers. I’ve been berated by people who work in jobs where such things matter. I know people who know things about fonts and the history of typography who have explained persuasively that single spaces are just the right thing to do. I can’t. I won’t. I just believe in two spaces. I find it easier to read. I find it more attractive. I’m stubborn and ridiculous. But if double spaces are wrong, I don’t want to be right.
I’m not a writer (other than emails, pitch letters, rights list blurbs, and Facebook status updates, the extent of my writing is this here blog), but I’m still not ready to let go of these things. In what ways are you writers out there attempting to halt the tide of language evolution? Anyone willing to join Team Serial Comma and Double Space, or do you all think I’m insane?
Update: Apparently the HTML auto-conversion that single spacifies doesn’t work if you use the Paste from Word function in WordPress. Victory for Double Spacers! (Surely now by going in to update this that single spacification will kick in. And, yes, I am the sort of person who uses made up words like spacification but gets all sad about where people put commas. Tragic, I know.)