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Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss
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Eats, Shoots & Leaves Quotes Showing 1-30 of 83
“A panda walks into a cafe. He orders a sandwich, eats it, then draws a gun and fires two shots in the air.

"Why?" asks the confused waiter, as the panda makes towards the exit. The panda produces a badly punctuated wildlife annual and tosses it over his shoulder.

"I'm a panda," he says, at the door. "Look it up."

The waiter turns to the relevant entry and, sure enough, finds an explanation.

Panda. Large black-and-white bear-like mammal, native to China. Eats, shoots and leaves.”
Lynne Truss, Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation
“Thurber was asked by a correspondent: "Why did you have a comma in the sentence, 'After dinner, the men went into the living-room'?" And his answer was probably one of the loveliest things ever said about punctuation. "This particular comma," Thurber explained, "was Ross's way of giving the men time to push back their chairs and stand up.”
Lynne Truss, Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation
“The rule is: don’t use commas like a stupid person. I mean it.”
Lynne Truss, Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation
“The rule is: the word 'it's' (with apostrophe) stands for 'it is' or 'it has'. If the word does not stand for 'it is' or 'it has' then what you require is 'its'. This is extremely easy to grasp. Getting your itses mixed up is the greatest solecism in the world of punctuation. No matter that you have a PhD and have read all of Henry James twice. If you still persist in writing, 'Good food at it's best', you deserve to be struck by lightning, hacked up on the spot and buried in an unmarked grave.”
Lynne Truss, Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation
“Proper punctuation is both the sign and the cause of clear thinking.”
Lynne Truss, Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation
“The reason it's worth standing up for punctuation is not that it's an arbitrary system of notation known only to an over-sensitive elite who have attacks of the vapours when they see it misapplied. The reason to stand up for punctuation is that without it there is no reliable way of communicating meaning.”
Lynne Truss, Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation
“Part of one's despair, of course, is that the world cares nothing for the little shocks endured by the sensitive stickler. While we look in horror at a badly punctuated sign, the world carries on around us, blind to our plight. We are like the little boy in The Sixth Sense who can see dead people, except that we can see dead punctuation. Whisper it in petrified little-boy tones: dead punctuation is invisible to everyone else -- yet we see it all the time. No one understands us seventh-sense people. They regard us as freaks. When we point out illiterate mistakes we are often aggressively instructed to "get a life" by people who, interestingly, display no evidence of having lives themselves. Naturally we become timid about making our insights known, in such inhospitable conditions. Being burned as a witch is not safely enough off the agenda.”
Lynne Truss, Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation
“For any true stickler, you see, the sight of the plural word “Book’s” with an apostrophe in it will trigger a ghastly private emotional process similar to the stages of bereavement, though greatly accelerated. First there is shock. Within seconds, shock gives way to disbelief, disbelief to pain, and pain to anger. Finally (and this is where the analogy breaks down), anger gives way to a righteous urge to perpetrate an act of criminal damage with the aid of a permanent marker.”
Lynne Truss, Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation
“To those who care about punctuation, a sentence such as "Thank God its Friday" (without the apostrophe) rouses feelings not only of despair but of violence. The confusion of the possessive "its" (no apostrophe) with the contractive "it's" (with apostrophe) is an unequivocal signal of illiteracy and sets off a Pavlovian "kill" response in the average stickler.”
Lynne Truss, Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation
“There are people who embrace the Oxford comma and those who don't, and I'll just say this: never get between these people when drink has been taken.”
Lynne Truss, Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation
“If you still persist in writing, "Good food at it's best", you deserve to be struck by lightning, hacked up on the spot and buried in an unmarked grave.”
Lynne Truss, Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation
“What the semicolon's anxious supporters fret about is the tendency of contemporary writers to use a dash instead of a semicolon and thus precipitate the end of the world. Are they being alarmist?”
Lynne Truss, Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation
“We have a language that is full of ambiguities; we have a way of expressing ourselves that is often complex and elusive, poetic and modulated; all our thoughts can be rendered with absolute clarity if we bother to put the right dots and squiggles between the words in the right places. Proper punctuation is both the sign and the cause of clear thinking. If it goes, the degree of intellectual impoverishment we face is unimaginable.”
Lynne Truss, Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation
“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 overexcited and breaks things and laughs too loudly.”
Lynne Truss, Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation
“Truly good manners are invisible: they ease the way for others, without drawing attention to themselves. It is no accident that the word "punctilious" ("attentive to formality or etiquette") comes from the same original root as punctuation.”
Lynne Truss, Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation
“...punctuation marks are the traffic signals of language: they tell us to slow down, notice this, take a detour, and stop.”
Lynne Truss, Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation
“We read privately, mentally listening to the author's voice and translating the writer's thoughts. The book remains static and fixed; the reader journeys through it.”
Lynne Truss, Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation
“Why did the Apostrophe Protection Society not have a militant wing? Could I start one? Where do you get balaclavas?”
Lynne Truss, Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation
“I apologise if you all know this, but the point is many, many people do not. Why else would they open a large play area for children, hang up a sign saying "Giant Kid's Playground", and then wonder why everyone stays away from it? (Answer: everyone is scared of the Giant Kid.)”
Lynne Truss, Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation
“No matter that you have a PhD and have read all of Henry James twice. If you still persist in writing, "Good food at it's best", you deserve to be struck by lightning, hacked up on the spot and buried in an unmarked grave.”
Lynne Truss, Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation
“I recently heard of someone studying the ellipsis (or three dots) for a PhD. And, I have to say, I was horrified. The ellipsis is the black hole of the punctuation universe, surely, into which no right-minded person would willingly be sucked, for three years, with no guarantee of a job at the end. ”
Lynne Truss, Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation
“We may curse our bad luck that it's sounds like its; who's sounds like whose; they're sounds like their (and their); there's sounds like theirs; and you're sounds like your. But if we are grown-ups who have been through full-time education, we have no excuse for muddling them up.”
Lynne Truss, Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation
“Evidently an A level in English is a sacred trust, like something out of "The Lord of the Rings". You must go forth with your A level and protect the English language with your bow of elfin gold.”
Lynne Truss, Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation
“Brackets come in various shapes, types and names:
1 round brackets (which we call brackets, and the Americans call parentheses)
2 square brackets [which we call square brackets, and the Americans call brackets]”
Lynne Truss, Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation
“No one else understands us 7th sense people. They regard us as freaks. When we point out illiterate mistakes, we are often aggressively instructed to 'get a life' by people who, interestingly, display no evidence of having lives themselves.”
Lynne Truss, Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation
“To those of us accustomed to newspaper headlines, 'PIZZAS' in inverted commas suggests these might be pizzas, but nobody's promising anything, and if they turn out to be cardboard with a bit of cheese on top, you can't say you weren't warned.”
Lynne Truss, Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation
“The reason to stand up for punctuation is that without it there is no reliable way of communicating meaning.”
Lynne Truss, Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation
“Clicking on "send" has its limitations as a system of subtle communication. Which is why, of course, people use so many dashes and italics and capitals ("I AM joking!") to compensate. That's why they came up with the emoticon, too—the emoticon being the greatest (or most desperate, depending how you look at it) advance in punctuation since the question mark in the reign of Charlemagne.

You will know all about emoticons. Emoticons are the proper name for smileys. And a smiley is, famously, this:

:—)

Forget the idea of selecting the right words in the right order and channelling the reader's attention by means of artful pointing. Just add the right emoticon to your email and everyone will know what self-expressive effect you thought you kind-of had in mind. Anyone interested in punctuation has a dual reason to feel aggrieved about smileys, because not only are they a paltry substitute for expressing oneself properly; they are also designed by people who evidently thought the punctuation marks on the standard keyboard cried out for an ornamental function. What's this dot-on-top-of-a-dot thing for? What earthly good is it? Well, if you look at it sideways, it could be a pair of eyes. What's this curvy thing for? It's a mouth, look! Hey, I think we're on to something.

:—(

Now it's sad!

;—)

It looks like it's winking!

:—r

It looks like it's sticking its tongue out! The permutations may be endless:

:~/ mixed up!
<:—) dunce!
:—[ pouting!
:—O surprise!

Well, that's enough. I've just spotted a third reason to loathe emoticons, which is that when they pass from fashion (and I do hope they already have), future generations will associate punctuation marks with an outmoded and rather primitive graphic pastime and despise them all the more. "Why do they still have all these keys with things like dots and spots and eyes and mouths and things?" they will grumble. "Nobody does smileys any more.”
Lynne Truss, Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation
“That man was Aldus Manutius the Elder (1450-1515) and I will happily admit I hadn't heard of him until about a year ago, but am now absolutely kicking myself that I never volunteered to have his babies.”
Lynne Truss, Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation
“When you by nature subscribe to the view that everyone except yourself is a berk or a wanker, it is hard to bond with anybody in any rational common cause.”
Lynne Truss, Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation

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