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If you are easily offended, or embarrassed about your own knowledge of grammar, leave your ego at the door when you pick up this book.
VANCOUVER, BC, May 30, 2014 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Grammar mistakes, spelling errors, misuse of words...it remains uncertain whether these issues with the use of the English language have worsened in recent years, or whether we are simply seeing more instances now through the use of social media, texting and email. However, one fact is unmistakable: grammar errors are everywhere. From major billboards to professional company reports to emails and texts exchanged with your best friend...mistakes are more common than correct language use, and if you do have one friend who is a stickler for correct spelling and grammar, they are most likely referred to as the "Grammar Police" within your social circle (I mean, I was given this book as a gift by a friend, so that probably tells me all I need to know about whom they consider the grammar police in our group!).
Is correct English really so important? many have asked. We are still communicating - for the most part - effectively, so does it actually really matter whether we spell things correctly or use all words in the right way?
Lynne Truss's book Eats, Shoots and Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation addresses this in a humorous and very British tone, and the answer is perhaps best explained through Truss's story of how she decided on her book's title. You've all heard the joke "Let's eat Grandpa. Let's eat, Grandpa! Good grammar saves lives." Well, the book title is also an amphibology and originated from another grammar joke:
A panda walks into a cafe. He orders a sandwich, eats it, then draws a gun and proceeds to fire it at the other patrons.
"Why?" asks the confused, surviving waiter amidst the carnage, as the panda makes towards the exit. The panda produces a badly punctuated wildlife manual and tosses it over his shoulder.
"Well, I'm a panda," he says. "Look it up."
The waiter turns to the relevant entry in the manual and, sure enough, finds an explanation. "Panda. Large black-and-white bear-like mammal, native to China. Eats, shoots and leaves."
Truss gets to the point of some basic and some more advanced grammar issues in her book, in a straightforward tone that holds no punches (example: "The rule is: don't use commas like a stupid person. I mean it.") and she is good at coming up with humorous ways for you to remember rules and guidelines in grammar ("In the family of punctuation, where the full stop is daddy and the comma is mummy, and the semicolon quietly practises the piano with crossed hands, the exclamation mark is the big attention-deficit brother who gets overexcited and breaks things and laughs too loudly.")
If you are easily offended, or embarrassed about your own knowledge of grammar, leave your ego at the door when you pick up this book. Keeping an open mind and being willing to laugh at yourself are two essential components in the learning process of any skill, and Truss's approach doesn't hold back on the teasing or the jokes, so it's best to keep that in mind here. However, if you do open the book with the right mindset, you should laugh a lot, learn a few things, and perhaps emerge with a desire to join her crusade in preserving the (correct) English language for future generations.
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