EATS, SHOOTS AND LEAVES: THE ZERO TOLERANCE APPROACH TO PUNCTUATION by Lynne Truss

Genre: Nonfiction/Reference
ISBN: 1592400876
How Acquired: library loan
Reading Began: September 13, 2004
Completed Reading: still haven’t, will begin anew on p. 72

Overall rating: loving it so far

Recommendation to others: It’s hysterical, but maybe only to the grammar geeks like me.

Why I chose to read this book: Like I said… grammar geek.

Favorite passages:

Part of one’s despair, of course, is that the world cares nothing for the little shocks endured by the sensitive stickler. While we look in horror at a badly punctuated sign, the world carries on around us, blind to our plight. We are like the little boy in The Sixth Sense who can see dead people, except that we see dead punctuation. Whisper it in petrified little-boy tones: dead punctuation is invisible to everyone else — yet we see it all the time. No one understands us seventh-sense people. They regard us as freaks. When we point out illiterate mistakes we are often aggressively instructed to “get a life” by people who, interestingly, display no evidence of having lives themselves. Introduction: The Seventh Sense (pp. 3-4)

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Somewhere between these positions is where I want us to end up: staunch because we understand the advantages of being staunch; flexible because we understand the rational and historical necessity to be flexible. Introduction: The Seventh Sense (p. 27)

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So what happened to the comma in this process? Well, between the 16th century and the present day, it became a kind of scary grammatical sheepdog. The comma has so many jobs as a “separator” (punctuation marks are traditionally either “separators” or “terminators”) that it tears about on the hillside of language, endlessly organising words into sensible groups and making them stay put: sorting and dividing; circling and herding; and of course darting off with a peremptory “woof” to round up any wayward subordinate clause that makes a futile bolt for semantic freedom. Commas, if you don’t whistle for them to calm down, are unstoppably enthusiastic at this job. That’ll Do, Comma (p. 79)

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About Jules Q

sharing stories of life, faith, and love for pop culture

Posted on 29 September 2004, in What I Read and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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