Saturday, 4 October 2008

Eats, Shoots and Leaves: Resurrection Of The Stickler

In reading through Lynne Truss's book "Eats, Shoots and Leaves" (a no-nonsense guide to punctuation that is often pretty funny and sometimes throws some weird facts at you) it dawned on me that I am a "stickler".
A stickler is someone who goes around and gasps at the shoddy use of punctuation, and in my case this is particularly true of the apostrophe. There are many times when I want to have a heart attacks because I see signs like "CD's for sale" or "50% off hose's" (and I know this is a bit of an odd example).
To add to the issue this afternoon when in a shop I saw the line "... and all the bands I'm yet to discover" instead of the fully grammatical "...and all the bands I've yet to discover". Tsk tsk, this is awfully sloppy and is setting a bad example. I would blame texting but to be perfectly honest I text people far more than a call them; I'd be a hypocrite to say that this wonderful function is causing the death of English grammar.
But like Lynne says, all of the sticklers need to unite and fight the wave of sloppy grammarians who think it's okay to be shoddy with words - they are effectively killing our language. Where would we be, after all, without apostrophes and commas? They help us understand the true meanings of sentences and are necessary to be fully understood. You wouldn't want to read a book and think that it's about a completely different subject to that which the author intended would you?
Gather the following items and join me in the grammar wars: stickers, banners, balaclavas, megaphones, spray cans, and a gun (to shoot people who still won't get the message or maybe even to turn on yourself if the situation gets too awful which is how I feel sometimes).
Oh, what's the use? I even corrected the grammar of my friend the other day and she was surprised and shocked that I'd be so picky about where she put her comma: "But it's grammatically incorrect for what you're trying to say!" I squealed. "So? Stop nit-picking!" She protested. Am I the only stickler in this part of the world!?
For those of you who don't understand the panda, I'll explain: The idea is based around a joke about a dictionary entry about the panda. Instead of typing "eats shoots and leaves" which suggests the panda's eating habits, the compiler of the dictionary wrote "eats, shoots and leaves" which suggests that pandas eat in a restaurant, shoot everyone dead and then leaves without a care in the world. Awful joke, but it makes a valid point!


Cesia said...

Yeah, I notice this kind of stuff as well. However, I also find myself being lazy sometimes, especially in emails!

- Cesia

Reluctant Blogger said...

Ah yes, I am a stickler too. I can be very irritating on the subject as my children could attest.

It's people who say "much" instead of "many" or "less" instead of "fewer" that really vex me.

But my grammar is appalling these days - I seem to have given up on it and just stick hyphens in all over the place and write sentences with no verb. Oh dear!

I listened to the author read the book on a cd and it was very amusing. Caused me to burn whatever it was I was meant to be cooking at the time.

babooshka said...

My surname has an s at the end. Trying to explain to people it is just an a apostrophe not and extra s aswell is beyond them. I admit to slipping though when tiredoe busy.

Nic said...

Makes me wonder why I made so much effort to learn the language really. It actually doesn't matter!


Babooshka - it is actually the acceptable and supposedly correct way to put an extra "s" on the end with an apostrophe if names end with an "s". This is because it means there is no indication that there are multiple persons of the same name owning one thing, and that it is just the one person.

Maniac Megahan said...

I loved this blog. I drive my husband bonkers pointing out these types of errors. Of course, I have become so lazy that I find myself slipping from time to time.

Glad I ran across your blog and looking forward to reading more.

By the way, how does one subscribe to a blog?

Thanks and check out my blog sometimes,

Angelia Megahan

Adam James Nall said...

Very interesting blog. I still need to read that book - it's on the 'to read' pile.

Excellent post.