Eats, Shoots & Leaves, by Lynne Truss

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Eats, Shoots & Leaves, by Lynne Truss

Post by Archived Reply » Fri Nov 05, 2004 6:32 am

I just got my copy of "Eats, Shoots & Leaves" from Amazon this weekend, and I've already read most of it! It is wonderful! This book should be a must-read for punctuation sticklers everywhere.

The only "problem"--if you will--I have found is that Ms. Truss is definitely British, and therefore some of her punctuation rules appear "wrong" to Americans. Although I always knew there were differences between British English and American English, I never realized there were differences in PUNCTUATION between the UK and the USA. Apparently, in the UK it is acceptable to sometimes put commas and periods (or "full stops") OUTSIDE the closing quotation marks--something that is definitely taboo here. The British have also apparently deleted the period after common abbreviations like "Mr Jones" or "St Thomas." Every time I see one of these British oddities in her book, I have to take a deep breath and count to ten!

Aside from the cross-Atlantic nuances of punctuation, though, I would highly recommend this book to anyone who has secretly dreamed of becoming a punctuation vigilante. Sticklers unite!
Reply from K. Allen Griffy (Springfield, IL - U.S.A.)
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Eats, Shoots & Leaves, by Lynne Truss

Post by Archived Reply » Fri Nov 05, 2004 6:46 am

I've been jarred on more than a few occasions on discovering that "rules" drilled into us by our infallible English-teachers had been repealed or modified - or were not universally accepted in the first place (the 60s!).
Different schools of grammar argue for different approaches and usages. "Rules" are often downgraded to "guidelines" - eg
'Do not end a sentence with a preposition - unless the resulting construction sounds too clumsy for a reasonable person to put up with.' (after - LONG after - Churchill)
'The verb "to be" always takes a complement (in the nominative case). But "It's me" is preferable in conversation to the ridiculous-sounding "It is I".' (Should I have two more full stops inside the quotation marks there? Grammar is less precise than algebra, so 'rules' tend to be somewhat arbitrary and debatable.)
I haven't seen the 'correct' version of "It's us!"! Probably, 'it's' is becoming a unit of speech, like the French equivalent 'c'est'. And authorities have noted that tag-questions (eg 'haven't they?' 'wasn't she?') are tending to become standardised as 'isn't it', as in Welsh usage, or 'innit' in Youtspeak - n'est-ce pas?
Reply from Edwin Ashworth (Oldham - England)
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Eats, Shoots & Leaves, by Lynne Truss

Post by Archived Reply » Fri Nov 05, 2004 7:01 am

I've just found a long-forgotten (by me) piece of dialogue from "Animal Crackers" , Groucho dictating a letter:
... ZEPPO : "How do you spell 'semi-colon'?"
GROUCHO : "Make it a comma."
Reply from Edwin Ashworth (Oldham - England)
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Eats, Shoots & Leaves, by Lynne Truss

Post by Archived Reply » Fri Nov 05, 2004 7:15 am

You can hear Lynne Truss being interviewed by Terry Gross about her new book on NPR's 'Fresh Air' at http://freshair.npr.org/day_fa.jhtml?di ... 05/03/2004
Reply from Erik Kowal ( - England)

[The following thread has been attached to the above earlier thread so that postings appear in chronological order.– Forum Admin.]

[h]Posted - 20 Jul 2006 : 04:07:02[/h] .. an absolutely wonderful read that in a painless and harmless way reacquainted me with the wiggly marks that pepper a page .. apostrophes, commas, dashes, semi-colons, colons and the lesser known ellipsis all get a run .. the idea of commas being the "scary grammatical sheepdogs" of the punctuation world tearing about "the hillside of language, endlessly organising words into sensible groups and making them stay put" .. and then "darting off with a peremptory `woof` to round up any wayward subordinate clause that makes a futile dash for semantic freedom." .. left me with a comical word image .. Ken, in another place,
And how could any person in their right mind write a book on punctuation with no index, rendering it essentially useless for reference purposes?
_________________________

Ken G - February 12, 2005
.. well not so Ken for me mate .. this is a light-hearted historical, but learned and well researched, look at punctuation then and now and if you desire an index then get busy with the stickits and margin notes ..

.. if you want a good chuckle at a serious topic written by a self-confessed "stickler" then get a copy and settle in to learn little known facts about all those wiggly bits .. this is a book to be taken seriously but written in a style that makes it accessible ..

.. I leave you with what Truss suggests we can all do about "apostrophe abuse" ..
First we must refute the label "dinosaurs" (I really hate that). And second, we must take up arms. Here are the weapons required in the apostrophe war (stop when you start to feel uncomfortable):

correction fluid
big pens
stickers cut in a variety of sizes, both plain (for sticking over unwanted apostrphes)
and coloured (for inserting where apostrophes are needed)
tin of paint with big brush
geurrilla-style clothing
strong medication for personality disorder
loudhailer
gun
WoZ of Aus 20/07/06

[h]Posted - 20 Jul 2006 : 06:14:40[/h]WoZ, you may not recall it, but you yourself contributed to another thread in this forum that is also devoted to this book. [That posting now appears above. - Forum Admin.]

I don't know if you care or not, but Truss looks askance at one of your idiosyncratically elliptical usages...

Erik Kowal

[h]Posted - 20 Jul 2006 : 18:32:52[/h]It seems whenever someone mentions "Eats, Shoots and Leaves" on this site, a chorus of "AMEN!" is heard in support of its wit, humor and value to the world. No surprise: I add my voice.

Shelley

[h]Posted - 21 Jul 2006 : 05:47:46[/h] .. *picks up Bible* .. Erik I swear I did a search before I posted this thread and I did find some mentions but NOT the thread you posted above .. oh well .. and you may notice that I use a truncated elipsis; I use only two dots not three .. *grin* .. and it was only when I read ES&L that I came to know that ... even had a name and was regarded as on official punctuation mark .. maybe the powers that move things might repost the earlier thread into this one .. or something ..

WoZ of Aus 21/07/06
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Eats, Shoots & Leaves, by Lynne Truss

Post by Ken Greenwald » Fri Jul 21, 2006 6:15 am

Wiz, It looks like the powers that move things have honored your request. It's magic! (&lt)
_________________

Ken - July 21, 2006
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Eats, Shoots & Leaves, by Lynne Truss

Post by Wizard of Oz » Tue Oct 03, 2006 1:04 pm

.. during a wander in the bookshop today I came across the latest offering of this book .. it is a cartoon version where on one page a sentence is written with comma/s inserted whilst on the facing page the same sentence is written with different comma/s insertion .. cartoon drawings are used to highlight the comical differences between the two renderings of essentially the same string of words ..

WoZ of Aus 03/10/06
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Signature: "The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."

Eats, Shoots & Leaves, by Lynne Truss

Post by tony h » Tue Oct 03, 2006 7:15 pm

An extra comma would not go amis. From tha BA Science News Digest: describing the contents of the magazine.
Plus, a nationwide shortage of sperm donors and hallucinogenic drugs may offer a new solution for headache sufferers.
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I'm puzzled therefore I think.

Re: Eats, Shoots & Leaves, by Lynne Truss

Post by Wizard of Oz » Sat Mar 21, 2009 8:04 am

.. I often read a magazine called Mental Floss - where knowledge junkies get their fix. .. well actually ..
For the record: mental_floss magazine is an intelligent read, but not too intelligent. We're the sort of intelligent that you hang out with for a while, enjoy our company, laugh a little, smile a lot and then we part ways. Great times. And you only realize how much you learned from us after a little while. Like a couple days later when you're impressing your friends with all these intriguing facts and things you picked up from us, and they ask you how you know so much, and you think back on that great afternoon you spent with us and you smile.

And then you lie and say you read a lot.
.. but anyway in the March/April edition they ran an article on ..
The 25 Most Influential Books of the Past 25 Years by rosemary ahern
This list isn't about story arcs or beautiful prose; it's about books with spine. Whether they've saved lives or gotten people killed, predicted America's future or uncovered its past, these 25 books have all had real-world impact. Be prepared to wear your library card ragged!
.. and guess what book turned up at Number 23 .. oh dear now how DID you guess .. Ms Truss will be very chuffed ..

WoZ doing a wombat

PS I actually read the print version at Borders on Saturday morning while I am having a nice cuppa and some raisin toast .. not the E-zine version
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