I finished reading Eats, Shoots & Leaves, by Lynne Truss. It wasn’t the easiest read to get through; as it was all about punctuation and the correct use thereof. But I was pleased in the end. Reviewing the rules of where to place the apostrophe when forming a possessive and the functional differences between a semi- and a full-colon took me back to my English classes of high school. I must admit that I am not a grammarian (for that is what they are called) by any means, but I do try to write things clearly and correctly. Ms. Truss gives you an awful lot of information, albeit some un-useful to the common reader, to consider. Thinking about the different sources I read, I came to an alarming conclusion; or perhaps not so. Most people don’t know how to punctuate! Truly! Simply looking at emails that are sent unedited and not proof read for errors is a telltale sign of it. However, the most egregious misuse of punctuation (and spelling for that matter) is blogs. You’ve seen it and so have I; the blatant over-emphasis of continuously misspelled and mispunctuated words through CAPITALIZAITON, italics, bolding, and (my personal favorite)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I’d like to include two small passages from the book that I found to be of particular importance.
H. W. Fowler’s book, although he being dead for more than 75 years, Fowler’s Modern English Usage, is still regarded as the definitive English style guide in most of Great Britain. He wrote, “An excessive use of exclamation marks is a certain indication of an unpractised writer or of one who wants to add a spurious dash of sensation to something unsensational.” I couldn’t agree more. So, if you are guilty of this most irritating offense, please stop.
Near the close of her book, Ms. Truss wrote the following, “We have a language that is full of ambiguities; we have a way of expressing ourselves that is often complex and allusive, poetic and modulated; all our thoughts can be rendered with absolute clarity if we bother to put the right dots and squiggles between the words in the right places. Proper punctuation is both the sign and the cause of clear thinking. If it goes, the degree of intellectual impoverishment we face is unimaginable.”
So the next time you write something, take a few extra moments to review your punctuation. And for my personal sake and that of every other reader out there, run a spell check!