download Reading Eats, Shoots and LeavesAuthor Lynne Truss –

In Eats, Shoots Leaves, Former Editor Lynne Truss, Gravely Concerned About Our Current Grammatical State, Boldly Defends Proper Punctuation She Proclaims, In Her Delightfully Urbane, Witty, And Very English Way, That It Is Time To Look At Our Commas And Semicolons And See Them As The Wonderful And Necessary Things They Are Using Examples From Literature, History, Neighborhood Signage, And Her Own Imagination, Truss Shows How Meaning Is Shaped By Commas And Apostrophes, And The Hilarious Consequences Of Punctuation Gone AwryFeaturing A Foreword By Frank McCourt, And Interspersed With A Lively History Of Punctuation From The Invention Of The Question Mark In The Time Of Charlemagne To George Orwell Shunning The Semicolon, Eats, Shoots Leaves Makes A Powerful Case For The Preservation Of Proper Punctuation

10 thoughts on “Eats, Shoots and Leaves

  1. says:

    Bad punctuation can force an innocent animal to live outside the law Now, instead of peacefully munching, it EATS, SHOOTS, and LEAVES I proudly consider myself a punctuation martyr The setting is an ordinary Soviet elementary school, first grade I am kicked out of the classroom and sent home with an angry note My transgression in my wide eyed seven year old innocence I dared to correct my very Soviet teacher on her comma placement and a spelling mistake This crime landed me on her black list for the rest of the year This was the beginning of my grammar vigilante stickler life Do you think I can sue her for my therapy bills Sometimes I discuss punctuation when I talk to my mother on the phone In my defense, she is a language teacher Ah, never mind, I don t have a valid defense Yes, I know I should get a life But I am ok with being pathetic And then I found this book And realized that I am not alone And had a very enjoyable few hours reading the creation of a fellow grammar stickler And then developed a strong desire to join a militant wing of the Apostrophe Protection Society Why did the Apostrophe Protection Society not have a militant wing Could I start one Where do you get balaclavas Should I be seeking therapy for this The bills will, of course, go to the aforementioned teacher. This book is a must read for all the grammar and punctuation sticklers out there It is a witty and entertaining read perfect for those like me who start hyperventilating and breaking out in hives at the misuse of commas, apostrophes, and semi colons If you ever felt a surge of rage at those who do not understand the difference between contractions, possessives, and plurals, then this book will be like a breath of fresh air for you 5 perfectly punctuated stars Punctuation can save lives That s right, kids Take this to heart.

  2. says:

    I have, for some reason, frequently been recommended Lynne Truss s book, though the reason escapes me friends who have been exposed to my academic writing style are particularly prone to do so, and I have grown used to this strange phenomenon I m sure it says about them poor, unenlightened souls than it does about me for some reason, in particular, very few people understand what a wonderful punctuation mark the semi colon is, and that it can, and very often should, be used to replace the period Though there is also, of course, much to recommend the humble comma the average sentence not that I wish to imply that a sentence should content itself with merely being average could be much improved by the addition of one or two, possibly , of these handy little beasts.No, I simply can t understand it I suppose that a careful reading of Eats, Shoots and Leaves could, if I really tried, help me make my sentences a little longer, and assist me in festooning them with additional, glorious, punctuation But why gild the lily ____________________________________________ based on a conversation earlier this morning with Jordan apologies to Bob Dylan Hey, Mr Semi Colon Man play a song for me I m not sleepy and there ain t no place I m going to Hey, Mr Semi Colon Man play a song for me In the jingle, jangle morning, I ll come, followin you.Though I know that evenin s empire has returned into sand Vanished from my hand Left me blindly here, to stand, but still not sleeping My weariness amazes me I m branded on my feet I have no one to meet And the ancient, empty street s too dead for dreaming.Hey, Mr Semi Colon Man play a song for me I m not sleepy and there ain t no place I m going to Hey, Mr Semi Colon Man play a song for me In the jingle, jangle morning, I ll come, followin you.____________________________________________Seen yesterday in the window of a Geneva art gallery, this 1927 painting by Jean Arp entitled Point Virgule semi colon I wanted to buy it on the spot Unfortunately, a the gallery was closed, b a little internet research revealed that it last went for around 900,000 euros.Damn But still, if you feel like giving me a really expensive surprise present you ll now know what to do.____________________________________________From Pico Iyer s essay In Praise of the Humble Comma A comma catches the gentle drift of the mind in thought, turning in on itself and back on itself, reversing, redoubling, and returning along the course of its own sweet river music while the semicolon brings clauses and thoughts together with all the silent discretion of a hostess arranging guests around her dinner table.____________________________________________Spotted earlier this morning by notgettingenough in an article about Waterstones formerly Waterstone s I would have contributed.____________________________________________From today s Independent ____________________________________________From following day s Independent

  3. says:

    Eats, Shoots Leaves The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation is a humorous book about punctuation Who knew punctuation could be so entertaining As someone who writes a fair bit half a million words on Goodreads alone , I know my way around a sentence However, when this popped up on on the cheap, I was powerless to resist, like my dog on a piece of cat shit.In Eats, Shoots Leaves, Lynn Truss takes us on a Bill Bryson esque odyssey through a forest of commas, apostrophes, colons, semi colons, and exclamation marks Incidentally, did you know an exclamation mark is called a dog s cock in some circles I did not.Truss writing makes things like how to properly use an apostrophe entertaining, using amusing phrasing and real life examples, offering up rules like Don t use commas like a stupid person It isn t all laughs, however I normally avoid colons and semi colons but I feel like she s given me a greater understanding of them.There s not a whole lot to divulge It s no surprise this short but sweet book is a best seller It s very accessible and as entertaining as a book on punctuation can be For grammarians and writers alike, Eats, Shoots Leaves is a fun yet useful book about fairly boring subject Four out of five stars.

  4. says:

    This is a delightful screed on the demise of punctuation in contemporary expression Truss bemoans the loss of knowledge or of interest in proper use of language Truss is a Brit and the usages have not been modified for the American edition of the book A must and an enjoyable read for anyone who cares about our language, for any reader In addition to gripes about the slovenly way that we write, Truss offers some history on punctuation.

  5. says:

    I m a snob In the comfortable safety of my desk chair, I m audibly mocking you if you dare use your for you re my biggest punctuation pet peeve or if your emails are peppered with unnecessary exclamation points and an overabundance of emoticons I like the smiley in IM conversations I hate it in email It s just a thing When I meet a pretty young thing that I might want to break bread with on occasion, I m filled with anxiety over that first email will she write in complete sentences with capital letters and periods and paragraphs, or will I be left reading a ton of LOLs and dashes and ellipses The bad email is going to seriously hamper this relationship.It s with that kind of word nerd superiority complex that I went into Lynne Truss short book on punctuation I m not a stickler, mind, but I do know when things aren t written properly and there are certain crimes against grammar that I just can t abide Even though I m sometimes a lazy writer here, I know the problems I ve been known to throw an extra comma where it doesn t belong, and when I m furiously typing, the there , their and they re usage can get hairy In the last week alone, I ve edited recent posts over and over again correcting tense and errant apostrophes Eats, Shoots Leaves has only succeeded in ramping up my snobbery and intensity.I politely chided a friend in the comments of a post because she had made a grammar error and she didn t even catch it That riled me up even It s driving me crazy that some old entries in here imported funny and now there are question marks masquerading as apostrophes and single quotes not to mention the number of dead links, but that s web nerd than parts of speech geekery isn t it Even now, I m obsessing over whether I m using punctuation correctly in this piece I ve got two hyphens impersonating a dash and I ve got colons and semi colons up there that I m pretty sure I m using the right way but can anyone ever be completely sure Sigh.But, yes, I m a snob My blogroll is filled with bloggers who are actually writers or aspire to be If you re going to use words, I want you to have a way with them I love that most of you understand the importance of setting off proper titles of books and films whether it be in quotes, italics, or the web person s favorite the bold and that you probably are wondering whether or not the period or question mark goes inside or outside the direct quote marks Ms Truss makes me feel a little stuffy about caring about such things but there is definitely a comfort in knowing I m not alone I appreciated most the history of punctuation she peppered throughout the book along with her very dry British humor and the delight with which she plays with her own writing, saving the colon and semi colon until she is actually talking about them keeping the hyphen and dash under wraps and then exploding with them at the perfect time.If you re a word nerd, you must read Eats, Shoots Leaves.

  6. says:

    Maybe it s because I suffer from a lack of punctuation know how _ but this book irked me Maybe it s because I m a linguist and, while I understand the purpose and value of punctuation, I just can t get all worked up about it Yeah, we all gotta have good writing skillz But, most sticklers for punctuation that I know are people who want to lord their intelligence over other people, but don t have much to recommend their intelligence other than a knowledge of when to use a semicolon Chances are, if you re talking about a Panda, I m going to know that it didn t walk into a restaurant, eat dinner, kill someone, and head back to China Whatever Read it if your punctuation is good and you want to feel smug.Incidentally, someone actually gifted me this book, because they know I have lofty degrees and figured this might be a good book for smart people Hah Smart people like me need a good reference grammar and style manual, not a funny book on punctuation.

  7. says:

    Lynne Truss pulls off the impressive feat of pumping about 20 pages of expository writing full of enough hot air to go into orbit or at least top the Bestsellers list for several weeks I could probably write a book of equal length a fluffy and yet tedious 204 pages going into what a disorganized mess this book is, but I ll spare you Instead, here are three reasons why you should save yourself the criminal 17.50 this book costs First, Truss comes across as such a pretentious, self important jerk that it makes the reading often unbearable Take this little nugget from page 104 To this day I am ashamed of what I did her response to a pen pal, both in eighth grade to Kerry Anne who unsurprisingly never wrote back I replied to her childish letter on grown up deckled green paper with a fountain pen Whether I actually donned a velvet smoking jacket for the occasion I can t remember, but I know I deliberately dropped the word desultory , and I think I may have used some French Pretentious Well, to adapt Gustave Flaubert s famous identification with Emma Bovary, Adrian Mole, age de treize ans et trois quarts c est moi I don t speak French, and she leaves this line, pretentiously, untranslated, so I ll have to give her the benefit of the doubt However, she does not seemed to have learned much from this unrepentantly asshole experience note she goes on to use poor Kerry Anne four times for her examples because she spends the entire book essentially trying to tell the world what to do You might wonder to what end High standards A love of literature No, just her own need to sound sophisticated and manage other people s business She attempts to gloss this over with an ill fated attempt at humor, which I ll address next Second, she is just not funny I generally love British humor and I m familiar with a fair amount of British comedy movies, shows, and writing I think she must have produced the least funny attempt at humor in British publication in the last 100 years Her jokes are based on a shared sentiment of self importance, not joy of the language Further, she tries to come across as appealing to everyone and treating her targets with cautious respect, but she ends up just taking cheap shots at greengrocers, teenagers, and the illiterate fear of losing language to the barbarians That s the sickening part Couple that with her tedious recurrent references to her being single at at age 48 at time of press , her lack of stereotypical teenage fun when other girls of my age were attending the Isle of Wight Festival and having abortions, I bought a copy of Eric Partridge s Usage and Abusage , and her repeat references to the same stale jokes Sir Roger Casement hanged on a comma and you get a long, tiring read Her style is an attempt at tongue in cheek, but she really just can t pull it off Finally, the book does not even achieve what it aims to That s impressive for a book pumped ten times the size of its meaningful contents Truss s real issue seems to be dissatisfaction with lowered standards by the public She lumps improper punctuation in with poor grammar and phonetic spelling, and in the process she looses sight of her original aim Poor writing, she assumes, is due to primarily to ignorance she deplores shorthand writing for text messages, but fails to consider the utility in that context she doesn t criticize court stenographers using official shorthand Further, she seems to interpret lax writing as a sign of social, and perhaps moral, decay rather than personal standards for what matters These days everyone accepts, at least I believe, that the internet is filled with lazy, disorganized writing I hold most all my own writing to high standards, including this book review, because it matters to me I don t think it makes much sense or does much good to blow off steam about the masses lazy writing on the internet There s no clear thesis and no clear argument That s the death call for expository writing and defeats the entire purpose of writing the book The book fails as an educational tool and cannot be redeemed on its humor or otherwise I ve always had high standards with writing grammar, punctuation, spelling, style , but having high standards is different from being anal Truss would have benefited from revisiting The Elements of Style to which she pays a passing nod at the end and thoroughly edited her book on everything besides the punctuation, especially the organization Clarity, flow, and interest would go a long way.

  8. says:

    This is how I know I m a real English teacher I have a shelf dedicated to books just about English The history of English, the uses and misuses of English, and even the history of the alphabet we use This is something I never expected to have in my personal library, that s for sure But that s all to be expected I m an English teacher, and people like me are supposed to read books like this It s professional development, or something The weird thing about this book, a book dedicated to punctuation, of all things, is that it was popular with people who weren t English teachers Everyone was shocked by how well it sold, the author included A book written as kind of a primal stickler scream somehow struck a chord with the general reading population Perhaps there is some hope for our species after all.The reason it sold well, of course, is that it s well written and entertaining to read Far too many books about language are written by dusty intellectual Linguists who exude smugness with their impenetrable jargon and are completely inaccessible to the general public I have those books on my shelves as well, and nothing this side of a double shot of NyQuil is as good at getting me off into slumberland Ms Truss, however, writes like one of us She s an ordinary person who loves her language and who just snaps every time she sees a sign like, Apple s 1 I share her pain.The book is a well mixed combination of history, usage and style The tiny marks that make the written English word behave the way it does have come to us along a remarkable number of paths In the last millennium or so, marks have been added, changed and removed over time as necessity dictated One of her fears and the impetus to write this book is that we may be changing English to a new form that requires less of that rigid, form fixing punctuation.Or people just haven t bothered to learn.As she notes throughout the book, punctuation is one of those things that few people ever really get to learn Our English teachers give it a once over in elementary school, and then we never get a review of it, so we spend most of our lives just throwing around commas and apostrophes and hoping we get it right More often than not, we don t And we re afraid to ask anyone, lest we look like ignorant yobs.But to master punctuation means than just being a pedant and a nerd Heavens, no Mastering punctuation means controlling your language, which is controlling your thoughts The vast difference between a sentence like, The convict said the judge is mad and The convict, said the judge, is mad should be enough by itself to illustrate how important proper punctuation is In a language like English, so dependent on rhythm, timing and stress, punctuation is the substitute for our voice It tells us when to speed up and slow down, which points need to be stressed and given special attention, and which points like this one can be safely disregarded, if one so chooses.It would be very easy for Ms Truss obvious frustration with the misuse of punctuation to overwhelm her and poison the book Admittedly, she does at one point put together a kit for those who would be punctuation guerrillas and risk prison to set the world straight, but by and large she stops short at advocating actual lawlessness.Ms Truss understands that punctuation abuse isn t something that people do intentionally it s largely a matter of ignorance, and she wants to help What s , she s funny For example In the family of punctuation, where the full stop is daddy and the comma is mummy, and the semicolon quietly practises the piano with crossed hands, the exclamation mark is the big attention deficit brother who gets over excited and breaks things and laughs too loudly.Every section in the book has sharp and clever humor, a description of something as simple as a comma made in such a way that you find yourself laughing out loud on the train.So, if you ve always wanted to know about how to use a semicolon, or you re not sure if your commas are in the right place, or if you ve ever driven someone to madness by dropping an apostrophe into a possessive its and you know who you are then this book is the one you need Enjoy.

  9. says:

    This joke, I think, is fairly well known a panda after having eaten food in a restaurant, takes a gun and fires a couple of shots into the air before exiting On being queried by the restaurant owner on his strange behaviour, the panda points to the dictionary entry on himself, which says eats, shoots leaves The problems created by an unnecessary comma It is this joke that this book takes its title from though it is not mentioned in this book However, there are plenty of other examples, some well known, some obscure, of how punctuation can affect a sentence and turn its meaning completely on its head Lynne Truss does a fantastic job of putting ahead her case for punctuation I, for one, am convinced , Ahem See above the stars of this book, taking a bow the apostrophe, the comma, the semicolon and the colon, the exclamation mark, the question mark, quotes, various types of brackets, the dash, the ellipsis and the hyphen along with italics The full stop, though a very important member of the contingent above, is not given special treatment because it performs a self evident role.Now the question you ask will be don t the others Well, yes and no It turns out that we have a fairly good grip of how most punctuation marks should be used however, most of us including established writers are unaware of the nuances Which lacuna Lynne Truss, self declared punctuation vigilante, sets out to correct.After some preliminary cribbing on the sins against punctuation in modern society, she starts with the apostrophe Here, I felt on safe ground most of the things she said jelled with me At least I was not sinning against the apostrophe Well, she did clear up one long standing doubt whether we should add it, when we are writing the plurals of abbreviations i.e CD s or CDs apparently, both forms are correct.When it comes to the comma, however, things get a lot murkier It seems that there is no hard and fast rule on comma usage, though there are correct and incorrect ways of placing it As mentioned at the beginning of the review and through countless horror stories we have heard , an absent or misplaced comma can create havoc with the meaning of a sentence But what exactly are its functions The author enumerates six, and after reading them, I was feeling that they were pretty self evident before I admitted to myself that I had not thought about it in that way before Lynne told me She says B etween the 16th century and the present day, it became a kind of scary grammatical sheepdog As we shall shortly see, the comma has so many jobs as a separator punctuation marks are traditionally either separators or terminators that it tears about on the hillside of language, endlessly organising words into sensible groups and making them stay put sorting and dividing circling and herding and of course darting off with a peremptory woof to round up any wayward subordinate clause that makes a futile bolt for semantic freedom Commas, if you don t whistle at them to calm down, are unstoppably enthusiastic at this job A very colourful metaphor indeed.Now we arrive at the two pesky things the colon, and the semicolon I never knew exactly how to use these guys, though I had a vague idea and I must thank Lynne for spelling it all out for me The way I had imagined them in my mind was as breaks interrupting the vehicle of narrative you put a comma, and you engage the clutch the semicolon is a gentle braking with the colon, you stop the vehicle momentarily and the full stop brings it all to a grinding halt It seems that my idea was not very much off these are indeed pauses, but it seems that there are some rules for using them.A colon is nearly always preceded by a complete sentence, and in its simplest usage it rather theatrically announces what is to come Like a well trained magician s assistant, it pauses slightly to give you time to get a bit worried, and then efficiently whisks away the cloth and reveals the trick complete The semicolon, in contrast, joins two related sentences where there is no conjunction such as and or but , but where a comma would be ungrammatical It also serves as a Special Policeman in the event of comma fights to see a live example, see the paragraph above the quote Here, I was a bit worried about the dash I tend to use it in lieu of the colon quite a lot but the author set my mind at rest assuring me that it is perfectly legitimate In fact, the dash is dashing it can subvert the meaning of the sentence in subtle ways, as shown in the example below, from Byron A little still she strove, and much repented,And whispering I ll ne er consent consented Lynne Truss discusses the exclamation mark, the question mark, quotation mark, ellipsis, brackets and the dash all together as these are the guys which give the text its sparkle cutting a dash , to use the author s own term I loved the way she explained these rules as they appeared in a sort of story, where Lord Fellamar almost succeeds in spoiling Sophia s virtue, to be frustrated at the last minute by the Squire Western.Before winding up, I would like to mention two things the author touches upon 1 The use of italics Though overkill would grate upon the reader s nerves, apt use can enhance the power of narrative no end In one Agatha Christie novel, the whole mystery hung upon where the emphasis in a sentence was placed she wasn t there , she wasn t there or she wasn t there and this example is mine.2 The under used hyphen I could very well have written underused in the previous sentence, but I decided to take the advice of Lynne and use the cute little connector And it is a must in some cases a little used car is very much different from a little used car So, ladies and gentlemen punctuation is important Though I would say that no one should lose sleep over the exact place to put that comma, or whether a colon or dash should be used, one cannot say that sometimes it does not become damn important, as the following sentence illustrates.Woman, without her man, is nothing So say the MCPs Woman Without her, man is nothing The feminists retort.

  10. says:

    Delightful book Have enlisted for the corps.Consider Using the comma well announces that you have an ear for sense and rhythm, confidence in your style and a proper respect for your reader, but it does not mark you out as a master of your craft But colons and semicolons well, they are in a different league, my dear They give such lift author Truss writes The humble comma can keep the sentence aloft all right, like this, UP, for hours if necessary, UP, like this, UP, sort of bouncing, and then falling down, and then UP it goes again Stop me if you ve heard this one before A panda walks into a caf No, wait He goes to, um, uh, Niagara Falls Yeah, that s it And this panda walks directly up to the edge of the rushing water, where he allows himself to plummet over the side to the churning froth below, wildly gesticulating with his arms all the way down The tragic suicide was a complete mystery to the panda s family until his wife came across a badly punctuated travel brochure in her husband s personal effects that said, A visitor to Niagara sees, falls, and waves From The Comma Denominator Good News No One Knows How to Use These Things by another of the grammar corps