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March 13, 2006

Comical Grammar

Truss, Eats, Shoots & Leaves 1 -- Jerz: Intro to Literary Study (EL150)

I really enjoyed Truss'S book, "Eats, Shoots & Leaves." See? Without reading that chapter I would have written TRUSS' book. To me, she does an excellent job of making "boring material" (no offense) something fun and interesting. I found myself laugh outloud in a few instances. I could put myself in her shoes, not as a "stickler" but as someone that a stickler would hate. Yes, it's true I am very ignorant of grammar but have every intention of improving (I better or else why am I an English major?). Her approach would probably seem harsh and would be a turn-off if she wouldn't point out that we're all in this together. In fact she wants to form a "stickler army!" It made me want to enlist.

I found the introduction funny but I couldn't pull out the reason that punctuation mattered untill page 20:

"The reason it's worth standing up for punctuation is not that it's an arbitrary system of notation known only to an over-sensative elite who have attacks of the vapours when they see it misapplied. The reason to stand up for punctuation is that without it there is no reliable way of communicating meaning."

When I thought about this, I couldn't help but acknowledge the truth. What, other than commas, apostrophes, and periods, are we to use to distinguish meaning from written words. The examples that Truss used really worked for me. I liked the example about the Jameson Raid on the Transvaal in 1896. How was he supposed to know what they meant? I think Truss did a great job at getting her points across effectively and she made it easy for me to read (truly a great accomplishment in itself).

Posted by AndrewLoNigro at March 13, 2006 07:22 PM

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I think that Truss can fill in Intro to Lit. (Just kidding). Even though Truss is not a grammatican, she has a habit to correct the things that we may not expect at first glance. But as English majors, we should develop this complex. (gasp) I have to, as well! It's just that the English-speaking community at large do not follow the rules on a diurnal routine. That is why we should develop these skills as early as possible. I think the government should step in on this crisis (pause for laughter).

Posted by: Kevin "Kelo The Great" Hinton at March 13, 2006 08:36 PM

Andy, thanks for the feedback about the book. Her colorful examples really do make it easier to discuss the finer points of punctuation.

Posted by: Dennis G. Jerz at March 13, 2006 11:54 PM

Oh, I am thrilled to hear that this class is enjoying this book... I got it as a birthday gift a year ago, roughly (yes, I love English that much), and I adore this book. What a great way to get people to care about their writing!

Posted by: Karissa at March 14, 2006 12:11 AM

We definitely felt the same about this chapter, Andy! I agree with you about Truss'S style. It was easy to read and like you said, made me laugh out loud several times. This material could have been easily introduced and explained very dryly, and I'm grateful Truss makes it so enjoyable to read.

Posted by: AmandaNichols at March 14, 2006 07:41 PM

It is interesting to read, especially since she's British. There are so many times in the book when I'm looking at a word saying "How the heck did she spell that?" and then I remember where she's from... ah, Western mentality, how I love you so.

Posted by: Mike Rubino at March 14, 2006 08:05 PM

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