Kevin's Reviews > Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation

Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss
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's review
Nov 26, 2011

it was ok
bookshelves: educational
Read from November 18 to 26, 2011

There are some humorous parts but fortunately this is a quick read, as the majority of it bored me. I didn't really enjoy it until the end. As a grammar stickler myself, I am annoyed on a daily basis by the illiteracy of the business world. But unfortunately, I find it a little hard to follow many of the author's references to British culture, plays, authors, etc., as I'm not very familiar with them. Otherwise I probably would have rated this higher. However, it's good to know that it's not just Americans who are dumbed down by the internet and cell phones.

One has to leave some room for the evolution of language, and I think that Truss does that. For example, I've had first hand experience with "Spanglish", living in Miami and being familiar with Latin culture in the U.S. La Academia Real de Madrid has a severe problem with this, just as Truss does with poor punctuation. But if mixing cultures and technology dictate it that way, so be it, I say.

My favorite passages were:

Pages 180-181: (Talking about reading books vs the internet): "The printed word is presented to us in a linear way, with syntax supreme in conveying the sense of the words int their order . . . All these conditions for reading are overturned by the new technologies. Information is presented to us in a non-linear way, through an exponential series of lateral associations."

Page 189: (I've noticed this forever, and it drives me nuts. I was taught this in typing class as a freshman in 1989): "Until very recently, typists were taught to leave a two- or even three-space gap after a full stop (period), but now word-processing programs will automatically reduce the gap to a single word space."

Page 192: "As for our writing personally to each other, how often do you hear people complain that emails subtract the tone of voice; that it's hard to tell if someone is joking or not? . . . That's why the came up with the emoticon . . ."

Page 202: "Proper punctuation is both the sign and the cause of clear thinking. If it goes, the degree of intellectual impoverishment we face is unimaginable."

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