Eat Shoots & Leaves

Topics: Punctuation, Typography, Aldus Manutius Pages: 2 (667 words) Published: February 9, 2006
"Eats Shoots & Leaves," by Lynne Truss, is a small book containing both humor and the rules of English punctuation. The title of this book comes from a joke about a wildlife manual with poor punctuation that said a giant panda "eats, shoots & leaves," which is a verb, verb, and verb. The way it should have been written is "eats shoots and leaves," which is a verb, noun, and noun. The different punctuation changes the meaning of the phrase. Truss divides the book into a several chapters to emphasize individual punctuations marks, starting with the "tractable apostrophe." The apostrophe was first put into use by the English language in the 16th century. The apostrophe indicates a possessive in a singular noun, as in "The boy's hat." It also indicates time or quantity for example, "In one weeks time." Apostrophes can indicate the omission of both figures in dates and letters. An apostrophe is used for strange, non-standard English, and plurals in letters and words. Truss continues on to give examples of "plain illiteracy" and other examples of when the apostrophe is more difficult to use. In the following chapter entitled "That'll Do, Comma," Truss explains when the comma is mostly used. The comma is best used to illuminate the grammar of a sentence or to emphasize literary qualities such as rhythm, direction, pitch, tone and flow. Truss humorously states, "This is why grown men have knock-down fights over the comma in editorial offices: because these two roles of punctuation sometimes collide head-on." She also continues on with more history of the comma. Truss illustrates the difference with commas for lists, joining, gaps, direct speech, interjections and pairs. In the chapter, "Airs and Graces" Truss begins with a story of her experience with an American pen-pal. The girl wrote her a carefree letter and Truss wrote back in a very pretentious tone, needless to say the girl never wrote back. Truss writes, "…colons and semicolons – well they are in a different...
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