Thu, 28 Apr 2005

Eats, Shoots & Leaves

I read Eats, Shoots & Leaves last weekend. I suspect that it's one of the few books on the reference/humour shelf at the bookstore. It's a book about punctuation. Remarkably, it was a best seller in Britain and has received a number of good reviews. The author, Lynne Truss, rants about poor use of punctuation by shopkeepers (and, based on the number of times she complains about greengrocers, she must live in the vegetable capital of the UK), gives some history about how various punctuation marks came into being, and gives some tips on how to use them correctly.

I found some comfort in learning that nobody agrees on the proper use of commas, and, so, I will use them aggressively, as I see fit. I will also try to incorporate more colons and semicolons into my writing; a key that was, up until now, largely reserved for writing code will be set free. I was also happy to learn that British authors, like any programmer, know that it's proper for trailing punctuation to appear without quotation marks.

One bit of punctuation that I would like to bring back is two spaces after a period (full stop). I learned it in typing class in high school, and didn't realize that it doesn't exist in books until Ms. Truss pointed it out.

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The state is that great fiction by which everyone tries to live at the expense of everyone else. - Frederic Bastiat