On the Postposition of Conjunction in Penultimate Position of a Sequence

By Xah Lee. Date:

i bring you here and now one regular expression from my head about English the language and my hatred of natural languages of its incompetence of efficiency, power.

when in expressing a sequence of things, to wit: “i love equally blondes, redheads, brunettes”, it is often the norm to post-posit a conjunction at the penultimate item. So, one would say instead: “I love equally blondes, redheads, and brunettes”.

i recall when i first encountered this phenomenon in my English acquirement, some 2 decades ago, i noticed this being so annoying. Why do they have to say “1 2 and 3” instead of just the simple and clear “1 2 3”. Today, honestly, i find the norm with the conjunction actually natural and smooth, perhaps by over a decade of habituation of English. I find that such sentences sans the conjunction at the penultimate position actually a bit weird and unnatural as if lacking a punch line, and i have came up with justification or theory of why. That is, the conjunction provides a hint to the coming of the end.

however, in my fretful mind and logicality and efficiency and principle driven persona, i firmly believe that such penultimate conjunction is unnecessary and must be condemned. Because, as you can see from my theorization, it came naturally out of habituation. Without habituation, it wouldn't have been natural. A sequence sans conjunction will come just as natural and smooth by habituation.

and as being a thing of extraneousness, it therefore is a burden to efficiency with respect to communication. Therefore this being a addition of artillery against the congress of grammarians and academicians i despise.

comrades and comradresses, may i have your opinions, if you please?

PS: at the back of my mind i do have some doubt about my condemnation of the before last “and”. This is because i do not totally understand its origin. In Chinese for example, they also have similarly “1, 2, and 3”. Signifying the end of the sequence seems somehow needed in communication between human animals, probably acting as a embedded redundancy/error-checking function.

See also: English Writing Style: Oxford Comma and Strippers.