Whether you love or hate it…
…the Oxford comma has its uses. (The Oxford comma, which is also referred to as a serial comma, is the comma before “and” in a series of items.) Personally, I don’t recommend using it unless it’s required for readability.
Whatever you think of this contentious comma, you’ll like this excellent graphic explanation of the Oxford/serial comma, from the Online Schools website:
Courtesy of: Online Schools
Yuo cna esialy raed tihs etnrie stenecne. Scray, ins’t tihs?
Have you seen this fun exercise? Apparently, as long as the first and last letters of each word are correct, even if the rest of the letters in each word are mixed up, you can still read the sentence! This proves that, when you’re proofing your own work, it’s almost impossible to see it with fresh eyes. Your mind automatically glosses over the errors. (Sometimes, your mind even inserts words that aren’t really there, as it knows they should be there!) ProofingQueen’s tip to get around this? Read whatever you’re trying to proofread out loud, or read it backward.
A Poem for Today
You likely know that Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae’s famous poem In Flanders Fields is inscribed on the back of the Canadian $10 bank note. But did you know that although most sources (including the $10 note and a wall of the Memorial Chamber in the Peace Tower in Ottawa) use “blow” at the end of the poem’s first line, other sources claim that “grow” is correct?
Our regal curiosity was piqued, so some online research was in order. In the photo we found at http://bit.ly/cGHe9U – a handwritten and autographed version of the poem – it looks like the last word in the first line is “grow”. However, because (as you likely know) we double-check everything, we kept looking. And, sure enough, on the Library and Archives Canada site at http://bit.ly/9eTEp6, we found a photo of the original poem, which uses “blow”. ProofingQueen has concluded that the use of “grow” is likely correct, as the National Archives’ handwritten copy of the poem was consulted when the $10 bank note was developed. For more information about the $10 note and the poem, check out the Bank of Canada’s excellent site at http://bit.ly/c2yr4S.
In any case, you’ll likely agree that this legacy of the 1915 Battle of Ypres is one of the most memorable war poems ever written.
The “Strait” Goods
We’re based in Vancouver, BC, so we see this one often: That big body of water just off the coast? It’s the Georgia Strait (or, to use the official name, the Strait of Georgia). That local newspaper? It’s the Georgia Straight. A clever play on words, but one that has created countless errors. (Our looking glass is always scanning the coastline for common mistakes like these.)
Watch this space…