Danish/Norwegian/Swedish: serial (aka Oxford) comma?

frugihoyi

Senior Member
English - USA, Portuguese - Brazil
I've been wondering about this for a while. In English, there are two acceptable ways to use commas in lists of three or more items:

  • Today was sunny, warm and dry.
  • Today was sunny, warm, and dry.

The first way is more popular and in a sentence like this there is no chance of misunderstanding. However, I personally like the second way, the Oxford comma. Take a look at this picture:
fycHx.jpg
As you can see, a sentence can easily be misinterpreted without the Oxford comma.

So can we use the Oxford comma in the Scandinavian languages? Does it have another name?
I know this is correct: Jeg spiste frugt, brød og havre.
But is this acceptable? ​Jeg spiste frugt, brød, og havre.
 
  • ramram

    New Member
    Swedish
    I don't know about Danish and Noregian, but in Swedish we don't use the "Oxford comma" when listing things. You use commas instead of "och", but not both. (Reference: Svenska skrivregler from Språkrådet)
     
    Last edited:

    bicontinental

    Senior Member
    English (US), Danish, bilingual
    I agree with you that the Oxford comma comes in handy in your example, but in cases of ambiguity you could, of course, use a conjunction instead of a comma (e.g. 'samt' ~ ‘as well as’)
    Vi inviterede stripperne samt Stalin og JFK (the strippers as well as Stalin and JFK)

    Bic.
     

    NorwegianNYC

    Senior Member
    Norwegian
    The way I see it, the Oxford comma - which is merely a stylistic measure - is redundant in almost all cases. Language is contextual, and no one would ever interpret "we invited the strippers, JFK and Stalin" to mean that JFK and Stalin were the strippers, unless the reader was a complete imbecile! Also, as per the example given above, "today was sunny, warm and dry" will in a normal setting not be misunderstood.

    The Oxford comma is really the product of an academic culture where this kind of nitpicking was appreciated. The fact is
    that "and" and "or" is meant to serve (by itself) to mark logical separation.
     

    Lugubert

    Senior Member
    I agree with you that the Oxford comma comes in handy in your example, but in cases of ambiguity you could, of course, use a conjunction instead of a comma (e.g. 'samt' ~ ‘as well as’)
    Vi inviterede stripperne samt Stalin og JFK (the strippers as well as Stalin and JFK)

    Bic.
    Also possible in Swedish. I use "samt" a lot to make sense of listings. In rare cases, though, the Oxford comma works for me as well, but I use commas for clarity and logic, and disregard most "general" "rules".
     
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