Friday, January 4, 2008

Eats Shoots and Leaves

As a Christmas treat for myself, I bought a copy of Lynn Truss's Eats, Shoots and Leaves. I've not read the book yet but I've been told that it's a lot of fun and really handy for an English teacher like me. The book is essentially about punctuation and our misuse of it. The title alone already reveals how, with a change in punctuation particularly the comma, the meaning of a statement can change.

Let's look at it some more: if you say that an animal "eats, shoots and leaves," it means that the animal will eat, then shoot a gun, then leave. But if you say, "eats shoots and leaves," it means the animal's diet consists of shoots and leaves. Get it?

I bought this book because as a writing teacher, I often encounter punctuation mistakes and problems they can cause in the meaning of a sentence. Read up on punctuation, everyone! Better yet, ask me!

1 comment:

Qing said...

Though using or not using comma in that phrase can change the meaning, it seems that the multi-menaings and flexible parts of speech of the word "shoots" also play a part in that example.