Entertainment & Arts

Sir Philip Pullman calls for 50p boycott over Oxford comma

Philip Pullman Image copyright AFP
Image caption The commemorative coin will come in to circulation later this week

Author Sir Philip Pullman has declared war on the new Brexit 50p - but it's nothing to do with politics.

Sir Philip has taken umbrage because the Oxford comma is missing from the coin's wording: "Peace, prosperity and friendship with all nations."

The Oxford comma is included before the final "and" in lists but it is not used universally and is often a topic of debate for grammar enthusiasts.

The coin will come into circulation on 31 January, when the UK leaves the EU.

Stig Abell, editor of the Times Literary Supplement, agreed with Pullman, tweeting: "The lack of a comma after 'prosperity' is killing me."

But Susie Dent, from Countdown's Dictionary Corner, said the Oxford comma was optional.

"Yes it is optional: it clarifies things quite often though, and I just find it easier and more consistent to use it all the time," she tweeted.

And broadcaster Joan Bakewell tweeted that she was taught that it was wrong to use the comma in such circumstances.

The new coin was unveiled by Chancellor Sajid Javid at the weekend.

Mr Javid had first ordered production of the coins in advance of the UK's original 31 October departure date from the EU.

But the Brexit delay meant about a million coins had to be melted down and the metal put aside until a new exit date was confirmed.

On Sunday, Tony Blair's former spin doctor Alastair Campbell said he would be asking shopkeepers for "two 20p pieces and a 10" rather than accept the new 50p coin.

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