I just finished Eat, Shoots and Leaves, a British book about punctuation. I enjoyed everything except the the last chapter. Now, I am an English major. I use decent punctuation and I know how to use punctuation decently (if not well). I write a lot. Etc.
The last chapter basically said that we must uphold punctuation in a world where the internet is taking over and making people forget their grammar.
Perhaps it’s because I’m in a different generation than the author, Lynne Truss. She’s older than me. I grew up with computers.
I grew up with bad punctuation, really, so I’m not so keen to hold on to. I do think it should be taught in schools. I think that punctuation is a good thing, but I think that the internet is making punctuation FUN, which is terribly exciting. People don’t know the rules all the time, but they are making creative dares with their punctuation, such as the increasing use of the dash and ellipsis (which I think is wonderful). Punctuation is becoming more and more a fluid concept that represents how people talk.
For example, the emoticons that she does not like: : ) I like my smileys, and so do a lot of other people. When she was talking about them, she didn’t understand the expressiveness and helpfulness an emoticon can have. While they have their place and their time (I will NOT include an emoticon in my papers for school), they really are quite wonderful things when you get used to them.
I’ve sat instant messaging my sister and used whole strands of them before, and it was so enjoyable that I’ll think I’ll continue using them. I’ll embrace emoticons! They are so happy looking! And expressive!
Besides that last chapter, I enjoyed her book. I find myself, however, realizing that I am not a stickler in any shape way or form, nor do I want to be. Bad punctuation does not bother me. I’ll use decent (not good) punctuation because I can.
I guess one really good thing about her book is she made a point that punctuation changes quite a bit. There aren’t rules for every situation and some times people disagree about what the rules are.
I liked that part. I don’t like the part where we have to attack the bad punctuation with Sharpies and white-out. For goodness sake, find something more productive.
(And: Merry Christmas! What a weird post I write for Christmas Eve.)