Novelist Philip Pullman moans that new Brexit 50p is missing an Oxford comma… only to be schooled about its correct grammatical use on Twitter
- New 50p coin reads: ‘Peace, prosperity and friendship with all nations’
- His Dark Materials writer tweeted to say it should be ‘boycotted’ over grammar
- Twitter debate saw several arguing Oxford comma isn’t used in British English
Author Philip Pullman complained the new Brexit 50p coin is missing an Oxford comma – only to be lectured about its correct usage on social media.
The 73-year-old novelist told his followers the commemorative Brexit coin should be ‘boycotted by all literate people’ because it is missing the ‘correct’ punctuation.
The coin reads: ‘Peace, prosperity and friendship with all nations’, followed by Friday’s date – when Britain will officially leave the European Union.
He implied the 50 piece should instead read: ‘Peace, prosperity, and friendship’, with the Oxford comma used before the ‘and’ to make clear the three components of the list are separate.
But his intervention sent Twitter into meltdown, with users split on whether the controversial punctuation mark is used in British English and others mocking his complaint.
Novelist Philip Pullman, 73, (pictured) told his followers the commemorative 50p Brexit coin should be ‘boycotted by all literate people’ because it is missing the correct punctuation
The His Dark Materials writer tweeted: ‘The Brexit 50p coin is missing an Oxford comma, and should be boycotted by all literate people’.
Brexiteers on social media responded: ‘Happy Brexit day!’ and ‘Still leaving’ under a picture of Prime Minister Boris Johnson giving a thumbs up.
One person wrote: ‘I thought it was used after three or more’ and a confused face emoji.
Someone else simply commented: ‘It does not need an Oxford comma’.
The new 50p coin reads: ‘Peace, prosperity and friendship with all nations’, followed by Friday’s date – when Britain will officially leave the European Union
While someone else wrote: ‘An odd hill to choose. The Oxford comma is unnatural, unnecessary and unliked.’
The Times Literary Supplement’s editor Stig Abell was another literary voice to condemn the lack of an Oxford, or serial, comma on the coin.
He wrote that ‘not perhaps his only objection’ to the coin was ‘the lack of a comma after ‘prosperity”, which he claimed was ‘killing him’.
The Oxford comma debate stretches back years, with fierce arguments on both sides.
Those who condone its use claim it is essential before the final component in a list of three or more to separate each one.
Mr Pullman implied the 50 piece should instead read: ‘Peace, prosperity, and friendship’, with the Oxford comma used before the ‘and’ to make clear the three components of the list are separate
Several were puzzled by Mr Pullman’s use of the Oxford comma and others denied the coin needs one
It is also important to separate elements of a list where one of them has the word ‘and’ included in it.
But many others argue it is unnecessary and not used in British English.
What is the Oxford comma?
The punctuation mark, also described as a ‘serial comma’, is the final comma that comes before the conjunction in a list of three or more items.
The first printed references can be traced back to writer F.H. Collins, who published it in his Authors’ and Printers’ Dictionary in 1905, before it appeared in the Oxford University Press (OUP), and became a controversial staple in the Oxford Style Manual.
The Brexit 50p piece was unveiled by Chancellor Sajid Javid yesterday.
He said: ‘Leaving the European Union is a turning point in our history and this coin marks the beginning of this new chapter.’
Approximately three million Brexit coins will enter circulation across the UK on Friday with a further seven million to be rolled out later this year.
Mr Javid, who is Master of the Mint, was given the first batch of coins, and will present one to Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, this week.
As part of the launch of the coin, the Royal Mint will open its doors for 24 hours to let people strike their own commemorative Brexit coins.
But it has sparked uproar among remainers, with Lord Adonis, a Labour peer who has consistently fought to reverse Brexit, tweeted: ‘I am never using or accepting this coin.’
Meanwhile, Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair’s former spin doctor, echoed a similar sentiment as he said he will ask shops for alternatives to the coin if he is handed one in the future.
Brexiteers on social media responded: ‘Happy Brexit day!’ and ‘Still leaving’ under a picture of Prime Minister Boris Johnson giving a thumbs up