Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Bad Spellers of the World Untie...

Okay, so this isn't a book about spelling, it's a book about punctuation.  Punctuation is as necessary as good spelling, which both are going the way of the dinosaur, due to email and texting, according to the author of this book.  I'm inclined to agree with her, which is why I read this book. 

On the back cover is this joke:

A panda walks into a cafe. He orders a sandwich, eats it, then draws a gun and fires two shots in the air.
"Why?" asks the confused waiter, as the panda makes toward the exit.  The panda produces a badly punctuated wildlife manual and tosses it over his shoulder.
"I'm a panda," he says, at the door. "Look it up."
The waiter turns to the relevant entry and, sure enough, finds an explanation.
"Panda. Large black-and-white bear-like mammal, native to China.  Eats, shoots and leaves."

So, punctuation really does matter, even if it in only occasionally a matter of life and death.

I find myself thinking about the proper uses of various punctuation marks, as I type these days.  I already knew most of the rules, and I'm sure my punctuation will pass most people's scrutiny.  I wouldn't want a real expert looking on. 

This book is for all those people who cringe at the sight of usages of "your" instead of "you're" and a whole bunch of other punctuation errors.  It is also a how-to book, to tell you when to use commas, quotation marks, dashes, semi-colons, and colons, all put together with some spicy commentary, along with her biggest pet peeve, the apostrophe.  It does have some very special uses, especially in possessive noun situations, and a great many exceptions.  It's a useful book, since everybody wants to know the right way to use punctuation marks  

She is especially virulent on the subject of misplaced apostrophe's. It was originally invented to take the place of removed letters.  One of my favorite tips in any contraction, and especially the "its", "it's" conundrum, and she also uses, is if the word represents, "it is", use the one with the apostrophe.  This works for "you are",  for your're, and others.  She has another bone to pick with those that done know where to use them with possessive nouns.  For example: Anastacia's book, as opposed to Anastacias' book, unless there are more than one Anastacia, in the family, or room, or school, which I doubt. 

I would love to tell all the rules and mistakes and tips right here, but that is stealing Lynne Truss's (that's correct, look it up in her book) thunder.

If you want to be able to write the King's English, and shudder every time you walk by a badly pnuncuated sign, (and correct this post) READ THIS BOOK!!


Another thing I've learned after writing this post, is that I don't know how to spell punctuation. Every time I typed it, spell check flagged it.


Anonymous said...

hmmm. I think I shall get this one.

The J's said...

Sometimes it bugs me. Mostly only if it is something that is used very obviously incorrectly.
Maybe because I didn't learn very much of it in school. I certainly do not remember a huge emphasis on it. (I am not saying that was a GOOD thing!)
I was a horrible speller. I do not remember letters or numbers well, and really have only improved since the "computer age-spell checking".
You are right and the books are right. Texting and IM is one of the biggest detriments to spelling and punctuation both. I'm very doubtful that will change. I guess it could be considered the shorthand of yesterday.
Another problem with e-mail, blogging and texting is that you can have it wrote, even knowing how it should be then make a mistake and not catch it and hit the send button. Done and gone! Some don't have spell check and some don't use it.

mrsmacolsson said...

I read this book a few years ago and really enjoyed it. I taught at an English International School in Sweden and all the teachers read it too. It was interesting to see the differences between British English and American English spellings.
Read it!

Renee said...

Oh, Shelley....this is interesting stuff!! I'm anxious to go see if our library has this book. I hope so, because I want to read it. It sounds like a book Retha would really have enjoyed too!

Lynisha said...

I'm going to have to find this book! I don't have the best punctuation, I'm SURE, but things like using you're in place of your - and vice-versa drive me NUTS!