Friday, November 03, 2006

PUNCTUATION PATROL



My theological-philosopher friend Evan Haskill let me borrow his copy of Lynne Truss's Eats, Shoots and Leaves.

Lynne Truss offers a delightful, yet informative tour into the history and use of grammar's little things like commas, exclamation points, colons, dashes, quotes, apostrophes, semicolons and the "full stop" (according to our British friends) or "period" to us USAmericans.

Where did these little marks originate? What were they used for at their origin? Why are they important (and Truss thinks they are very important)?

Do you know what "the Oxford comma" is?

She tells the story of a man hanged by a comma. He was trapped by a piece of legal writing with a deadly comma. As another example, Truss offers the same paragraph twice, but with different punctuation. The exact same words end up communicating very opposite messages.

Truss laments the dumbing down of correct punctuation due to Internet cyber-write, for example, the loss of capitalization, the use of --- and ... and the things like "C U B4 the game."

Don't let Truss get near signs that are wrongly punctuated...like "beets, potatoes and carrot's." Or, "used book's here." Or, worse, "used book,s here."

I done have had a reel gud timme redding the bouk. Thank yew, Evan.

9 Comments:

At 11/03/2006 11:52 AM, Blogger Jim Martin said...

Hmmm. I probably need to read this. This sounds interesting and enjoyable.

 
At 11/03/2006 12:02 PM, Blogger John Frye said...

Jim,
You'll like it and it's an easy read.

 
At 11/03/2006 12:33 PM, Blogger Evan said...

you, sir, are most-graciously, welcome!! i have other book's u should read L8er,

 
At 11/03/2006 1:17 PM, Blogger Elizabeth Ellen Moore said...

I recently read Eats, Shoots and Leaves, and I just posted my blog post on it last night. I enjoyed the examples of poor punctuation like the ones you included in this post. It was certainly an eye opener. It is hard to believe that someone would write “book,s!”

 
At 11/03/2006 2:23 PM, Blogger John Frye said...

Evan,
Yudaman!

 
At 11/03/2006 2:25 PM, Blogger John Frye said...

elizabeth ellen moore,
The book was an eye-opener for me, too. I think I am a amateur punctuation cop. :-)

 
At 11/03/2006 6:01 PM, Blogger Lukas McKnight said...

I'm as much as a grammar lover as there is (am I a dork for saying that?), and I used to hate internet/text message speak; however, I'm gradually accepting and opening up to it. Why? For the same reason we use words like can't and don't- for brevity and speed's sake. I think there's a time and a place for it, but I think it is a bit of speech evolution, at least.

 
At 11/04/2006 3:39 AM, Blogger John Frye said...

Lukas,
Lynne Truss recognizes the evolutionary nature of language, yet she laments, in her way of seeing it, the deplorable down-turn in grammar. There is a tongue-in-cheek aspect to her book, too. She's having fun with it.

 
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