Saturday, February 26, 2005

"Eats, Shoots and Leaves"

I have just finished reading Lynn Truss' book about the perils of punctuation. In fact, there was a portion of the apostrophe chapter that questions if it is more correct to write Lynn Truss's book. Apparantly both are used, but one is more British and one is more American. I forget which is which. I naturally use the first version, but "Canadian" is kind of a distillation of the King's English and the language of our neighbours, so that is unhelpful in telling me which is which.

I was actually proud of myself for my mostly correct punctuation as I read the book. I tend to be a stickler for spelling too. Ms. Truss bemoans the lack of correct punctuation and grammer due to "Netspeak" or "Weblish". I try to stick to proper English wherever possible in emails and web posts and in my blog. I agree with Ms. Truss. The immediate, speed-driven way we communicate now gives people the excuse to be stupid and un-grammatical. I cringe at the incorrect use of "its" and "it's" for instance. I am content however to cringe in silence and I would never dare to point out punctuation errors that I come across. Though sometimes a mis-placed comma can completely change a sentence's meaning. In that case I may be forced to ask for clarification.

While reading the book I felt somewhat guilty about my love of the ellipsis ( those 3 little dots ). The ellipsis has two functions: to replace missing words if you are quoting something, or to end a sentence in a tantalizing manner. I attempt to be tantalizing quite frequently ( not always in print! ) and I am afraid that often I come off as vague and incoherent instead. So I will try to marshall my thoughts a bit better in future and refrain from doing this...

By the way, if you have not heard about the book, the title refers to the following panda joke:

A panda walks into a cafe. ( Sorry I don't know the keyboard shortcut for an acute accent above the "e" ). He orders a sandwich, eats it, then draws a gun and fires two shots into the air.
"Why?" asks the confused waiter, as the panda makes towards the exit. The panda produces a badly puncuated wildlife manual and tosses it over his shoulder.
"I'm a panda," he says, at the door. "Look it up."
The waiter turns to relevant entry and, sure enough, finds an explanation.
"Panda. Large black and white bear-like mammal, native to China. Eats, shoots and leaves."


Now I must admit that when I first heard of the book I had not heard of the panda joke. I did of course realize that if one is describing the panda diet, then the comma after "eats" shouldn't be there. However my dirty little mind immediately thought that "Eats, shoots and leaves" referred to a rather hideous date of: dinner, a quick and unsatisfactory toss in the sheets, followed by the man's speedy departure.

I suppose you could infer from my conclusional jump that my grammatical knowledge is pretty good and my opinion of men is less so...


(Dang, there I go with those darn little dots again!)

Comments:
The Grammarian from H*ll and Human Spellchecker slips in to note that it's grammAr, not grammEr, then slips quietly away, hoping the Weather Goddess doesn't throw too much more rain at her. ;->
 
I love those flipping ...... thingys!

Andrea
 
Who? Me? But I'm so lovable!
 
...hmmmm... I'm sure it's just a coincidence, but I got rained on on the way to work.... ;->
 
Ooops! Now look at that! I was all about the punctuation in this entry and I can't even spell "grammar" correctly. How funny is that? Thanks Darla for the sharp eyes!
 
Thank you for the laugh, I needed that.
(Please forward all corrections to my foot. My foot will then respond with a swift kick to your posterior.) Giggle giggle.
 
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