Oxford Comma

Album: Vampire Weekend (2008)
Charted: 38

Songfacts®:

  • The Oxford comma, also known as the serial comma, is the comma that comes before a grammatical conjunction (generally 'and' or 'or') in a list of three items. For instance "Paris, New York, and London" is written with the Oxford comma, while "Paris, New York and London", identical in meaning, is written without it.
  • In this number about linguistic imperialism, the New York band appear to be criticizing the 19th century English intellectuals that created and enforced such rules of language as the Oxford comma. As far as Vampire Weekend are concerned content should come before structure.
  • The lyrics refer to Lil' John, surely the only instance of a song about punctuation to reference the Atlanta crunk maestro. Singer/guitarist and lyricist Ezra Koenig admitted in an interview with Aversion to being a fan of Lil' Jon. The Vampire Weekend frontman said: "I love him. Well, I specifically like "Get Low" a lot. I like the dance where you point your hands to the window and to the wall. I don't dance a lot, but I did have a couple of experiences dancing to it."
  • Vampire Weekend have been criticized for producing "lifestyle music." Koenig told About.com this is a misconception, citing this song as an example. He explained: "With 'Oxford Comma,' to me it's very obvious that it's about elitism, and dealing with someone who thinks they're better than you, and who tries to criticize you in bulls--t ways. I know it's not the most straight-forward song in the world, but to me it's pretty obvious that that's the tone of it. But some people would say that by even naming a song 'Oxford Comma,' all we're doing is reinforcing elitism, because, in theory, only the privileged classes know what an Oxford comma is. That, to me, is a classic example of how people misinterpret our songs. Some people just hear certain words and think: 'these guys must think they're so smart!' But, my family history has pointed to the idea that you don't have to be rich to be educated, to care about books, to know obscure words."

Comments: 3

  • Tim from Pittsburgh, PaI found it ironic that steph misused a comma in posting her comment...
  • Jessica from Raleigh, NcActually, steph, it does. The Oxford Comma is not needed, most particularly in American English.
  • Steph from Cleveland, Oh"Paris, New York, and London" does not have the same meaning as "Paris, New York and London." The second, groups New York and London together within the already grouped three.
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