Eats, Shoots & Leaves

I’m reading this book called  Eats, Shoots & Leaves that Kim got as a (gag?) gift from her boss.  It’s a book about punctuation, and it’s also a "Runaway #1 British Bestseller" apparently.

If you are interested in good writing and punctuation, or more to the point: if you are bothered by bad writing and punctuation, then you will love this book.  It’s laugh-out-loud funny, to me at least.  Here are some excerpts:

Quoting Lynne Truss:

I tend to feel that if a person genuinely wants to know how to spell Connecticut, you see, they will make efforts to look it up.  Or, failing that, if a book announcing itself as The Only Way to Spell Connecticut is This is to be found in heaps on a table in front of them, they will think, "Hang on, I might get this!"  But it turns out there are people whom you simply cannot help, because it suits them to say, with a shrug, "Do you know, I’ve always wanted to know how to use an apostrophe -- and oh dear, I don’t know how to wash my hair either."  [xxiii]

Either this will ring bells for you, or it won’t.  A printed banner has appeared on the concourse of a petrol station near where I live.  "Come inside," it says, "for CD’s, VIDEO’s, DVD’s, and BOOK’s."  If this satanic sprinkling of redundant apostrophes causes no little gasp of horror or quickening of the pulse, you should probably put down this book at once.  [1]

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.  [4]

In the spring of 2001 the ITVI show Popstars manufactured a pop phenomenon for our times: a singing group called Hear’Say. [...] newspapers, who insist on precision in matters of address, at once learned to place Hear’Say’s apostrophe correctly and attend to the proper spacing.  To refer in print to this group as Hearsay (one word) would be wrong, you see.  To call it Hear-Say (hyphenated) would show embarrassing ignorance of popular culture.  And so it came to pass that Hear’Say’s poor, oddly placed little apostrophe was replicated everywhere and no one gave a moment’s though to its sufferings.  No one saw the pity of its position, hanging there in eternal meaninglessness, silently signalling to those with eyes to see, "I’m a legitimate punctuation mark, get me out of here."  [36]

Posted by Anthony on 3 replies


01. Jun 13, 2005 at 06:42pm by Mike:

Oh, I so relate to this.  I make my fair share of typos of course, but it’s usually due to my fingers moving faster than my brain (And how many times I look back on a blog post and cringe my misspellings sometimes).  What bothers me isn’t when people make a typing error, but when they just don’t know how to spell a word.  Especially there/their/they’re.  That drives me crazy because NOBODY does that right.  Another spelling pet peeve that I’m starting to see a lot all of a sudden is "rediculous."  How freaking dumb do you have to be not to know how to spell that?  Ridiculous, indeed.

02. Jun 13, 2005 at 06:44pm by Mike:

Haha.  I just looked back at all the errors in my last post.  I had a feeling sounding off on this was going to get me in trouble.  I should learn when to shut up.

03. Jun 13, 2005 at 07:08pm by Anthony:

Hehehe.  "Rediculous" drives me crazy too.  And "definately," which I’ve ranted about before.

Another class of errors that really annoys me is mis-worded common phrases, like "all of the sudden," and "I should of known," and "I could care less."  (In case you didn’t know, that’s "a," "have," and "couldn’t.")

And yeah, typos are no big deal, that’s completely different from being actually ignorant about how to spell, or how to use punctuation.

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