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Consider the following British-English sentence:

It is difficult for the decision-makers to believe, let alone accept(,) that the increased hardware-security would outweigh the production loss caused by security-enhancing measures.

Is the second comma mandatory, forbidden, or optional? In the optional case: what shift in the meaning does the introduction of the comma (versus its absense) cause? Justification supported by references would be welcome.

(If it has any relation: we use the serial [Oxford] comma throughout the rest of the text.)

OOD provides a single example without a comma:

Who on earth would be prepared, let alone equipped to take on such a challenge?

But, there is no explanation (and it might even be a typo), so, all bets are off.

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The second comma is mandatory.

It is difficult for the decision-makers to believe, let alone accept, that the increased hardware-security would outweigh the production loss caused by security-enhancing measures.

"Let alone accept" is parenthetical in your sentence, i.e. it's an extra piece of information which is not essential in order for the sentence to make sense -- if you remove it, you still have a perfectly correct sentence. Parenthesis is set off by a pair of punctuation marks which can be two commas, two dashes, or two brackets.

Dictionary reference has a more detatiled definition for parenthesis:

Grammar. a qualifying, explanatory, or appositive word, phrase, clause, or sentence that interrupts a syntactic construction without otherwise affecting it, having often a characteristic intonation and indicated in writing by commas, parentheses, or dashes, as in William Smith—you must know him—is coming tonight.

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    Not sure if it's an oversight or a a different understanding. A third possibility is that your sentence could be interpreted in a different way. Who on earth would be prepared [for the end of the world or other catastrophe which we can only know from the overall context], or equipped to take on the challenge. In this case the part after the comma is an afterthought. – S Conroy Jul 3 '19 at 22:43
  • @SConroy In your comment, there should be no comma in the example sentence at all. If you remove the parenthetical information, the sentence should read (without a comma) Who on earth would be prepared or equipped to take on the challenge? If you want to make it clear that it's not "(prepared or equipped) to take on the challenge," then you would use two sentences or a dash: (1) Who on earth would be prepared? Or equipped to take on the challenge?; or (2) Who on earth would be prepared—or equipped to take on the challenge? – Jason Bassford Jul 4 '19 at 6:57
  • @Jason Bassord. Stylistically I prefer your suggestions too -- I was just trying to find a justification for the authors to have put a single comma in that position. – S Conroy Jul 4 '19 at 13:54
  • We may note that it is annoyingly common – but still wrong – to omit the second comma (or dash) of a parenthesis. – Anton Sherwood Jul 4 '19 at 15:34
  • Please check for duplicates before answering. – Edwin Ashworth Jul 5 '19 at 15:20

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