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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

What IS punctuation?



Today I’ve got more from Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynn Truss, the lovely and witty book about punctuation I’m reading…


In the introduction, Truss gives a few definitions of what punctuation is. My favorite is this one: “Punctuation is the basting that holds the fabric of language in shape.”

But I also like her favorite which she quotes from a style book by a national (UK) newspaper: “Punctuation is a courtesy designed to help readers understand a story without stumbling.”

Truss comments, “Isn’t the analogy with good manners perfect? Truly good manners are invisible: they ease the way for others, without drawing attention to themselves.” Which is exactly what punctuation does when used properly; it makes us feel as though we're living inside the book, sailing smoothly along.

She also bemoans the state of punctuation in her country and the fact that “…for over a quarter of a century, punctuation and English grammar were simply not taught in the majority of schools…” Unfortunately, this ‘grammatical apathy’ occurred immediately before the explosion of the internet and personal devices. Now everyone and anyone can be a writer, post reviews, like this one:

I watched this film [About a Boy] a few days ago expecting the usual High Grant bumbling…character Ive come to loath/expect over the years. I was thoroughly surprised. This film was great, one of the best films I have seen in a long time. The film focuses around one man who starts going to a single parents meeting, to meet women, one problem He doesn’t have a child.’ 

Your quiz today is a little different. Take that review and make it shine. Polish it up with proper punctuation and no more than say…ten extra words (there’s 68 as it stands). I'll post my revised review in the comments. Anyone else game?

Tomorrow, I’ll be back with more from Eats, Shoots & Leaves :)

6 comments:

Robin said...

That review is actually fairly standard in terms of what I am now used to seeing. I thought about taking you up on your challenge, but I am SO BEHIND on blog reading. I really need to visit some folks who haven't seen me in a LONG time.

Liza said...

Oh dear. Or should it be, Oh,dear?
I really don't know. I'm not good at grammar, but at least I learned it, so I stand half a chance.

mshatch said...

Robin, I know what you mean. Some reviews make you wonder why the person bothered.

Liza, I'm better at grammar than I used to be.

My revised review:

A few days ago, I watched the film, About a Boy, expecting the usual Hugh Grant character I've come to loath and expect over the years. However, I was thoroughly surprised! This film was great, one of the best films I've seen in a long time. The story focuses on a man who goes to a single parents meeting in order to meet women. Unfortunately, he doesn't have the required child...

Liz A. said...

It's actually not too bad, considering how bad some of those reviews can be.

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Huntress said...

oh my. I've seen horrible grammar in the comment sections of online newspapers. Cringe-worthy. Like nails on a blackboard.