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Eats, Shoots & Leaves

Eats, Shoots & Leaves
Lynne Truss
204 pages

I admit to being a bit fixated on grammar and punctuation. During boring meetings at work, one of my favorite activities is spotting grammatical errors on the speaker's charts. And I'm continually amazed by the ways in which the English language can be butchered. I don't claim to be perfect in this area, but I definitely make an effort to write correctly. So, this book resonated with me. In it, Lynne Truss outlines the basic rules governing usage of common punctuation like the apostrophe, comma, semicolon, colon, and quotation marks. She describes the changes in usage over time, and the differences between American and British conventions. And she does it all in a very accessible and humorous fashion. For example, consider The Law of Conservation of Apostrophes, described thus:
...this law states that a balance exists in nature: "For every apostrophe omitted from an it's, there is an extra one put into an its." Thus the number of apostrophes in circulation remains constant, even if this means we have double the reason to go and bang our heads against a wall. (p. 63)

Truss also considers how language will evolve as the written word shifts from a predominantly printed form to electronic media. She notes that our current punctuation system -- which was produced first for reading aloud, and later for print -- will undoubtedly undergo significant change, and that early signs of this can be seen in today's use of emoticons. She's actually quite positive about the inclusive nature of the internet, and encourages sticklers everywhere to embrace change and welcome new usage conventions that are sure to emerge. I'm OK with that -- as long as we don't start using apostrophes to indicate plurals. :-P ( )



( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 24th, 2009 06:26 am (UTC)
"Eats, Shoots and Leaves" is one hilarious book. A comma here, a spelling mistake there, and the entire sentence comes tumbling down. ;D
Dec. 24th, 2009 08:36 am (UTC)
Ah, but you know people already do use apostrophes to indicate plurals. I am really curious about what's going on in people's brains when they do this. Apparently they can't explain their own reasons for doing it. I mentioned this in:

Dec. 24th, 2009 01:00 pm (UTC)
Apostrophes as plurals ...
Ah, Marieke, I realize now I wasn't sufficiently clear in my post. I meant to say, as long as it doesn't become acceptable practice to use apostrophe to as a plural. This is indeed one of my major pet peeves, and yes it happens all the time. Drives me crazy!!
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )