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Punctuation for the People

Truss, Eats, Shoots and Leaves -- Jerz: EL150 (Intro to Literary Study) "Left to the berks, the English language would 'die of impurity, like late Latin'. Left to the wankers, it would die instead of purity, 'like medieval Latin'."

I think this is a very important quote because it illustrates the importance of balance in judging people's grammar. I think punctuation should be a republic; it shouldn't necessarily be defined directly by people who aren't professional writers, but professional writers ought to pay attention everyday usage of punctuation in order to make their writing more accessible to the general public. You shouldn't just ignore punctuation, but you can't cling onto obscure rules that nobody uses with any regularity. Just as long as punctuation accurately reflects the rhythms of language, I think it is doing its job. While I used to use the British version of the rules of quotation punctuation (just as in the aforementioned quote, I put the period outside of the quotes because it just makes sense to me), I don't use it anymore because it's not what I normally see in most things I read. You just have to pay attention to the trend of the times, and go along with what could possibly be conducive to grammatical logic and accurately reflects what most people write.

Comments (1)


I totally agree. With the way the language is constantly changing, you can't expect for every rule to stay the same. On the other hand, if you constantly change the rules you won't have a language that anyone can understand, so you have to be careful to walk the middle road. (Oh, and as for using the British styles, when Truss put in the example of changing to the American-English spelling of "glamor" my immediate reaction was, "But I spell is glamour! So that's why spellchecker always marks it wrong!")

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