Eats, Shoots and Leaves

I was recently chastised on my last post for my poor, lacking grammar. I admit, I struggle with good grammar. I had the misfortune of being placed in English honors classes in high school. While I was an exceptional reader and could do great on tests over books and vocabulary, the teachers somehow thought that if you were in honors English you've mastered every grammatical rule possible. Thus I never received another day of training in the matter, and my focus was placed on more important issues like iambic pentameter. Blah.

But I really do love grammar! And apparently I love the Oxford comma. The Oxford comma is that little comma that separates the second-to-last item in a list from the last item. An example is as follows: I like cheese, cookies, and cake. However, as we all learned in high school we could rebel against those eccentric ivory-tower snobs and abolish this comma once and for all and state with pride that I like cheese, cookies and cake. What a liberating day that was.

Take whichever side you like, that's not the reason I'm writing this post. The reason is because I found this great book called Eats, Shoots and Leaves which is about one woman's struggle to fight the terrible grammar that is abundant in our present day society. Look at your last text message, IM, or even email and see if you're not guilty! (There I go again with that Oxford comma)

I think I am in love with this lady. Here is a woman who feels very passionately about the need for better punctuation and grammar. Here is the first page from the introduction:

Either this will ring bells for you, or it won't. A printed banner has appeared on the concourse of a petrol station near to where I live. "Come inside," it says, "for CD's, VIDEO's, DVD's, and BOOK's."

If this satanic sprinkling of redundant apostrophes causes no little gasp of horror or quickening of the pulse, you should probably put down this book at once. By all means congratulate yourself that you are not a pedant or even a stickler; that you are happily equipped to live in a world of plummeting punctuation standards; but just don't bother to go any further. 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."

Isn't this lady great? I am just thankful that there are people that nerdy in this world. Now I, by no means, am near as passionate on the matter. Indeed, you will find several mistakes in this post if you look, I'm sure. But I do like her call for us to be more concerned with how we use words and language. I, for one, intend to start throwing more commas into my sentences. Perhaps even an Oxford comma!


kteachjoy said...

Wow. I would love to read a few pages of that book. However, I am quite certain I could not take the whole thing. After a few pages I'm afraid the humor of it all would wane.

ann said...

Wow indeed! I'm glad we finally see eye to eye on something. :) Apostrophes are my pet peeve, and my favorite teaching tool on this issue is
Bob the Angry Flower
. Since I am a proud American (smile), I usually don't use the Oxford comma, although I think it is perfectly acceptable. I'm open minded like that. :)

Did you realize that "Eats, Shoots, and Leaves" has a children's book version? It will be my child's bedtime story from a very early age, I assure you.