London: Death of the comma? One of the most commonly used elements of written English - the humble comma - could be abolished as a punctuation mark without doing much damage to the language, a US academic has suggested.
Professor John McWhorter, an associate professor of English and comparative literature at Columbia University, believes that removing commas from most modern US texts would cause little loss of clarity.
McWhorter said that as Internet users and even some writers become increasingly idiosyncratic - if not indifferent - in their use of the punctuation mark, it may have outstayed its welcome, 'The Times' reported.
You "could take them out of a great deal of modern American texts and you would probably suffer so little loss of clarity that there could even be a case made for not using commas at all," McWhorter said.
He cited the Oxford comma, inserted after the penultimate item in a list, as an example of the mark's obsolescence.
"Nobody has any reason for it that is scientifically sensible and logical in the sense that we know how hydrogen and oxygen combine to form water," McWhorter told Slate magazine.
"So these things are just fashions and conventions. They change over time," he said.