Confession time: I'm a comma maximalist.
I adhere to the formal rules of comma use, even those that some publications and editors have begun to abandon. I'm a fan of the Oxford comma. When a comma is indicated for clarity or effect, I tend to use it. On the flip side, I'm very conscious of where commas do *not* belong, and it grinds my gears (and my teeth) when people misuse them. Prime candidate: Any sentence that has a comma *after* the word "but."
I understand that language evolves, and I understand that if the punctuation isn't required for clarity, it doesn't strictly *need* to be there, but (there's the proper placement for commas around that word) for me, the comma denotes rhythm, pause and flow, distilling the audible into the visual ... and since I do read visually, not phonetically, I need (or at least like) that reminder.
We also need to talk about my addiction to parentheses, but that's another (much thornier) story ...
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