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Eats, Shoots & Leaves: Punctuation Primer as Best Seller


The British have invaded, again; this time with Lynne Truss's book Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation. Gotham Books (2004)  A best-seller on the other side of the drink, we shall soon see if Americans can be similarly titilated, motivated, or collectively annoyed enough to pick up a copy and join in the fun.


May 11, 2004
— Edmund Morris, author of Theodore Rex, writes for the New York Times,

"A MANHATTAN real estate broker has just notified me, on heavy stationery, that 'the New York market is remaining vibrant with the goal of buying a home being a principle interest for purchaser's to either upscale or downscale their homes.' "

"Syntactical incoherence aside, it is difficult to say what is most annoying about this sentence: the dropped comma, the misspelled adjective, the superfluous apostrophe, the split infinitive, the grating use (twice) of ''home'' as a commercial noun. I am tempted to reply, ''It is against my principal's to consider such illiterate letter's,'' but doubt that the sarcasm would register. As the journalist Lynne Truss notes in ''Eats, Shoots & Leaves,'' her forcedly jovial punctuation primer, ''the world cares nothing for the little shocks endured by the sensitive stickler.''

I for one am intrigued by the prospect of seeing my friends, suddenly aware and having an opinion on, such a subject.  Aside from those of us who make a living (if you can call it that) from the craft of writing, the majority of people these days compose most of their communications as email with the conformity and subsequent flagrant abuse of TEL (the English language), and reserve punctuation for :) smilies—or to compose entire graphic images, instead of their use for edification of text and conveyance of specific or subtle intentions. 

So, are you a semi colon abuser, an apostrophe disaster, or a flagrant em dash officianado? Why not pick up a copy and find out.  And then take the

 Online Literacy Practice Tests from the British Teacher Training Agency.


Other Perspectives on Grammer & Punctuation

Punctuation Resource Links



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