Eats, Shoots & Leaves

Lynne Truss

manda just reminded me that I never read this book, having been much intrigued when it was published in the US last year with some mixed press. Readers who don’t have a nerdy interest in the finer points of grammar, as well as a working knowledge of British humour, probably wouldn’t find much in this “zero tolerance approach to punctuation” to compel or even vaguely entertain. But if the idea of anthropomorphizing punctuation marks sounds entirely straightforwardly amusing,…

As we shall shortly see, the comma has so many jobs as “separator” (punctuation marks are traditionally either “separators” or “terminators”) that it tears about on the hillside of language, endlessly organising words into sensible groups and making them stay put: sorting and dividing; circling and herding; and of course darting off with a peremptory “woof” to round up any wayward subordinate clause that makes a futile bolt for semantic freedom.

…then you’ve probably already read this.