Dangers of grammatical criticisms

Subject: Dangers of grammatical criticisms
From: Emily Berk <emily -at- armadillosoft -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 22 Jun 2004 18:25:16 -0700


BAD COMMA by LOUIS MENAND (a review of ?Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation? by Lynne Truss)

"The first punctuation mistake in ?Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation? (Gotham; $17.50), by Lynne Truss, a British writer, appears in the dedication, where a nonrestrictive clause is not preceded by a comma. It is a wild ride downhill from there. ?Eats, Shoots & Leaves? presents itself as a call to arms, in a world spinning rapidly into subliteracy, by a hip yet unapologetic curmudgeon, a stickler for the rules of writing. But it?s hard to fend off the suspicion that the whole thing might be a hoax.

The foreword, by Frank McCourt, contains another comma-free nonrestrictive clause (?I feel no such sympathy for the manager of my local supermarket who must have a cellarful of apostrophes he doesn?t know what to do with?) and a superfluous ellipsis. The preface, by Truss, includes a misplaced apostrophe (?printers? marks?) and two misused semicolons: one that separates unpunctuated items in a list and one that sets off a dependent clause. About half the semicolons in the rest of the book are either unnecessary or ungrammatical, and the comma is deployed as the mood strikes. ..."

http://www.newyorker.com/printable/?critics/040628crbo_books1

--Emily

Emily Berk
http://www.armadillosoft.com


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