The Instigator
InVinoVeritas
Pro (for)
Winning
15 Points
The Contender
MissSparkle
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

Grammar: In writing, items in lists should not be separated by commas.

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 5 votes the winner is...
InVinoVeritas
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/15/2011 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,318 times Debate No: 19884
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (6)
Votes (5)

 

InVinoVeritas

Pro

Pro: In writing, items in lists should not be separated by commas.

Con: The opposite view.

What I mean: "They went to Sweden with George, a dentist, and a chef." My argument is that commas should not be used to separate items in a list such as this and should be replaced by something else (e.g., "and.")

Thank you. Limit the first argument to introductions, definitions, and terms of debate.
MissSparkle

Con

I accept your challenge.
Debate Round No. 1
InVinoVeritas

Pro

Commas used to separate items in lists can lead to serious ambiguity.

Let's refer to my previous example:
"They went to Sweden with George, a dentist, and a chef."
There is ambiguity here. Are there three people in this list... or am I listing two people and simply indicating the fact that George is a dentist?

Okay, option #2:
"They went to Sweden with George, a dentist and a chef."
Still ambiguous. Now the reader wonders if I'm listing three people or if I'm simply describing George as a dentist and a chef...

So what do we do?

Here's a solution:
"They went to Sweden with George and a dentist and a chef."

Should we have to judge whether we should use commas in our lists on a case-by-case basis? No. That just makes things too complicated. We should stop using commas in lists in order to avoid potential ambiguity and instead use "and" between every item... or maybe use another symbol, such as the semicolon, that would allow us to avoid making such misinterpretations come about.

Thank you. I look forward to my opponent's refutation.
MissSparkle

Con

I think that in that case you could say I went to Sweden with George who is a dentist and a chef.

This should already clear things up. But commas are handy in other cases. You might have had the problem that a text had one word to mutch to fit on one paper. If we would use and all the time, this might happen a lot more often because commas take up less space.
Debate Round No. 2
InVinoVeritas

Pro

"I think that in that case you could say I went to Sweden with George who is a dentist and a chef."
Yes, but then you would have to expect the writer to check every time he uses commas for potential ambiguity, which is very inconvenient. This could completely be avoided if something other than commas were used.

"If we would use ["]and["] all the time, this might happen a lot more often because commas take up less space."
Well, I never said we would have to replace the commas with "and." Hypothetically, we could come up with a brand new grammatical symbol that is even small than the comma... The amount of space the replacement would take up is not an issue.

The reason that commas cause ambiguity in itemized lists is the fact that it has multiple functions in grammar, which, in some contexts, may conflict and lead people to derive multiple meanings from a sentence.

Grammatical rules are often formed to avoid ambiguity. For example, note the difference between "Let's eat grandma!" vs. "Let's eat, grandma!" The comma is included in order to avoid a double-meaning.

By using commas to separate items in lists, we are inviting ambiguity, while is something that grammatical rules try to avoid. Hence, commas should be replaced with something else in itemized lists.

Thank you to the readers and the opponent. 'Twas a fun one.
MissSparkle

Con

I agree with you now. I can not think of any more arguments. I think it is a good idea to replace the comma with another symbol.
Debate Round No. 3
6 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Posted by Hardcore.Pwnography 5 years ago
Hardcore.Pwnography
Haha it's funny because you yourself used commas in your arguments
Posted by Oryus 5 years ago
Oryus
hehe this debate reminds me of this funny cartoon I once saw:

http://img.anongallery.org...
Posted by drafterman 5 years ago
drafterman
Ambiguity should result in a restructuring of the sentence (or paragraph) in question, not a restructuring of grammar itself.

In and of itself, the sentence is ambiguous. However, that ambiguity would most likely be alleviated through the overall context of the passage in which it occurs.
Posted by caveat 5 years ago
caveat
I went to the market and purchased milk|eggs|cheese|coffee|cereal|juice|fish|chicken|pork|sugar|salt|pepper|oregano|paprika|crackers|soup|snacks.
Posted by InVinoVeritas 5 years ago
InVinoVeritas
Agreed. ;)
Posted by Maikuru 5 years ago
Maikuru
I went to the market and purchased milk and eggs and cheese and coffee and cereal and juice and fish and chicken and pork and sugar and salt and pepper and oregano and paprika and crackers and soup and snacks.

Much better =)
5 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Vote Placed by Double_R 5 years ago
Double_R
InVinoVeritasMissSparkleTied
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: Con made no serious attempt to debate and conceded.
Vote Placed by MasterKage 5 years ago
MasterKage
InVinoVeritasMissSparkleTied
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: Con conceded, and Pro had better arguments.
Vote Placed by Maikuru 5 years ago
Maikuru
InVinoVeritasMissSparkleTied
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: Con conceded.
Vote Placed by wiploc 5 years ago
wiploc
InVinoVeritasMissSparkleTied
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: Con conceded.
Vote Placed by vmpire321 5 years ago
vmpire321
InVinoVeritasMissSparkleTied
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: CON gave up, and PRO presented better arguments.