It is always better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.
This week we shift our focus towards punctuation in British English with the help of Eats, Shoots & Leaves – an all-time English Bestseller that focuses on the differences between American and British punctuation. Not only is it an interesting and captivating read but it can also improve the quality of your writing – a vital skill for your business English.
The book was incredibly well received by critics and the general population alike. The overall style is characterised by absurd situations that were inspired by the improper use of punctuation. Some of them are the author’s brainchildren while others are real-life experiences that the writer had to go through in order to uphold the use of appropriate punctuation in the English language. Fictitious or not, the author’s obsession with correct punctuation is evoked in a funny, inspiring, and infectious way.
At times it feels like the author is struggling to understand the purpose of simplified English and thus makes use of every tool in her writing arsenal to explain why punctuation still relevant and just as important today as it was in Shakespearean times. She proclaims, in her delightfully urban, witty, and rather English style, that it is time to look at our commas, semicolons, hyphens, and apostrophes, and see them as the wonderful and necessary things they are.
This unique approach to English punctuation makes the book an enjoyable and educational read at the same time. But don’t be fooled by the innocent title – this book is pushing the obsession for punctuation to the extreme by exploring graphic, outlandish situations created to uphold grammatical pedantry. Its bubbly style and (occasionally) dark humour bring an interesting pallet of colours to an otherwise educational topic.
What probably struck us the most was the raw passion for correct writing, expressed by Truss in the most sincere way. Her passion reflects onto every sentence, question mark, and comma. It sometimes even stretches beyond words and symbols – as Truss is happy to share in her book.
One of those instances was when she protested outside a cinema that was showing the film “Two Weeks Notice”. She stood in front of the cinema with a huge cardboard apostrophe on a stick – hinting (if you can call it that) towards the missing punctuation mark in the title of the movie.
You might say that’s “Banana’s” – but be careful how you write it. Truss would never let such recklessness go unnoticed, lest we descend into chaos. Her consistent emphasis on correct punctuation is a powerful reminder to all of us that English stretches beyond spelling and pronunciation. Furthermore, if you’re studying English for business purposes, correct writing skills are a must.
Without spoiling the experience and the first impact, the name comes from a short story in the book about a panda who walks into a coffee shop, orders a sandwich, eats it, and then shoots the waiter. In this unlikely scenario, Truss shows how a missing comma can have a huge impact if taken literally.
If our description managed to raise your interest, then make yourself a nice cup of tea, put your comfortable slippers on, and go to your favourite reading spot with a copy of Eats Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss.
If punctuation in personal or business English is a top priority for you, here at Simon & Simon, we make it easy for you to integrate punctuation training in your language course by building a bespoke course for your specific needs. Our wide range of language courses, including English, French and German and 20+ other languages.
Contact Simon & Simon today to find out more about how we can help you improve your punctuation skills.