In the tradition of other 'fun with grammar' texts, such as 'Woe is I' by Patricia O'Conner and 'Anguished English' by Richard Lederer, Lynne Truss helps bring to life the simple yet vital piece of communication -- punctuation. Weaving history of use and abuse together in a witty, oh-so-English book, Truss makes light and fun a subject of constant concern, if we would but know it. Victor Borge once had a comedy skit that immediately came to mind when I first started this book, the skit of 'audible' punctuation, in which various pops, whistles and snaps stood for the punctuation that we use in our everyday speech. Just because we don't enunciate it doesn't mean it isn't there!
This point is driven home from the outset -- the very title of this book derives from just such importance in locating punctuation properly. It was once said of a panda bear that it 'eats shoots and leaves' -- however, punctuating it differently, one gets the sense that it eats, then fires some kind of weapon, and then departs, rather than consuming bamboo and green, leafy things.
Truss has a sardonic wit, recommending with British understatement the most horrific sentences for those who abuse their sentences. Truss has little patience (but quite a lot of fun) with common mistakes of the comma, apostrophe, quotation marks, and more. She has somewhat more sympathy for people who haven't learned the fine art of the less prominent punctuation marks: colons, semicolons, brackets and such. However, given the age of such things (some punctuation marks are a thousand years old), perhaps it is about time to start getting things write, er, right.
This is not a long book, and is full of little pieces of wisdom -- to improve one's grammar is to improve one's life, Truss would hold. Certainly, the ability to communicate with language is a primary human quality; the ability to communicate well increases our own sense of self-worth.
It must be accepted that there are different styles of punctuation -- books such as 'Elements of Style' detail these in exacting form (something one will not find in this book. However, on the whole, discovering the differences can be as interesting as any other part of this book, and it will at least show that one is paying proper attention to grammar. While Truss can come across as rather picky, that is precisely the quality one wants in one's editor and teacher of admittedly picayune and pedantic subjects. Try for just one day living life without punctuation!
le 14 octobre 2004
"Citizens advice bureau"
If on reading the above quotes you cringed, then you'll love this book. If you're wondering what I'm going on about, let me explain, it should be "men's toilets", "Citizen's advice bureau" and "cyclists only". If you're now saying "oooohhhh, yeah!" to yourself then this book is also for you. If you still don't know what on earth I'm on about you really need to buy this book! An easy to understand & humerous aproach to punctuation.
le 25 mai 2015
PUNCTUATION: THE ENDANGERED SYSTEM
An appreciation by Phillip Taylor MBE and Elizabeth Taylor of Richmond Green Chambers
A great piece of humour and yet with a serious aim, this little book has become a runaway bestseller overnight and rightly so. As Lynne Truss has explained, there are many people who have little idea of the basics of punctuation today. This does not surprise us in the slightest.
As examiners, we have found scant regard continues to be paid to full stops, commas and question marks. However, by far the number one serial offender is the missing apostrophe. The story of the panda eating in a restaurant, then shoots the restaurant up and departs is an amusing story with an important message. The placing of punctuation in the wrong place can completely alter the message being conveyed… at some cost.
“A revolution in punctuation”, this book has been dedicated to the memory of the striking Bolshevik printers in St Petersburg who, in 1905, demanded to be paid the same rate for punctuation marks as for letters, and thereby directly precipitated the first Russian Revolution.
We have come a long way in over 100 years and the main casualty has been the written word. The ‘shorthand’ we have encountered in the last six years using the internet is enough to convince us that this book should be compulsory reading in schools hence a schools edition in 2006 with illustrations.
Besides, this book is a good read and very funny in places. To sell 50,000 copies in just over a week on release is a great achievement! It is true to say that the book makes a powerful case for the preservation of the system of what is interestingly described as ‘printing conventions’. However, this is not a book for pedants but for everyone, including members of the Bar who write lengthy Opinions and the judges who read them. It has never surprised us how cross the Judiciary become when they see sloppy legal paperwork. We expect it from solicitors but we must maintain a very high standard at the Bar, even with the infernal internet and toxic text messages.
Well done, Lynne for reminding us of our legal roots. ‘Sticklers unite’ she says, ‘you have nothing to lose but your sense of proportion – and arguably you didn’t have much of that to begin with’. Do look at the end of the book for a fine bibliography – all the usual suspects are there including one Bill Bryson and his ‘Troublesome Words’, and the excellent Philip Howard’s ‘The State of the Language: English observed.’
“Eats, Shoots and Leaves” remains a 21st century book to treasure for what could become an endangered system.
le 7 décembre 2012
A nice read - wittily written. Good revision and consolidation when you're at ease with the written word, apostrophe use, spelling, parts of speech - and the humble comma. A pity this book is unlikely to be read by those who aren't.
le 12 juillet 2011
L'histoire du panda mises à part, ce livre est sérieux.
Il me semble que les infos sont fiables. Par contre, pour le guillemet anglais, j'avais appris une simple apostrophe pour les anglais et un double pour les américains (vérifiable chez de grands auteurs) mais il semble que les anglais utilisent une double.
Mais le livre est sympa, un peu trop négatif pour moi.