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Eats, Shoots and Leaves

The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation

by Lynne Truss

Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss X
Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss
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  • First Published:
    Apr 2004, 240 pages
    Apr 2006, 240 pages

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There are currently 8 reader reviews for Eats, Shoots and Leaves
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Toni Morrison (07/05/17)

Worst Book I have ever read!
This is not a very interesting book. All the book talks about is where a comma or apostrophe should go. I would not recommend this book for anyone.
Kaledrina (07/24/06)

I read "Eat, Shoot & Leaves" last year (when I was twelve). I found astounding proof of Lynne Truss's points whilst scanning Internet forums and moving picture posters for grammatical and punctuational errors just waiting to be spat upon by my inner stickler. For example, from a forum I recently checked, quote:

"hy you are rite clg04 ant dtv the stuff ," end quote.

Lynne Truss clearly used well thought out and organized details to support her claims of grammatical ineptitude in modern day society (was there supposed to be a hyphen between "modern" and "day"?).

Five stars for Lynne Truss. Bravissima.
Dr Antony Bradbury (02/20/05)

Text I found this book to be informative and imaginative. Unfortunately, Lynne has made some errors herself. Page 85, she starts a sentence with 'And'. Of course, I was not looking to for the error, or the three others that I stumbled across. I rate this work as a good 9/10. Well done, Lynne truss.
Pam Rider (01/22/05)

To all but those who understand punctuaton, this book is a gem. To the knowledgeable,
it has a witty title, which has a hyphen error in the subtitle. Some of us have zero tolerance
for those who do not know to hyphenate zero-tolerance approach.
Les Dundon (01/05/05)

Eats: shoots and leaves.
Amusing and informative.
I've just read a review which said, "...finishes by lamenting the lack of punctuation in E-mails." But I say, "Read the book to the end before writing your review." Lynne Truss' final, historically significant, point has nothing to do with E-mails! Read those last few pages, m'lord.
Anne Jones (08/18/04)

As I read this book, I found myself thinking of commas, semicolons and apostrophes as characters, with their own distinct personalities. This is a very witty read.
Tim Payne (07/03/04)

I take no issue with the book itself: as far as pedants go, Lynne Truss is about as gentle as you can reasonably expect. But what disappoints me is the licence she takes with regards to the title.
An Australian slang word for sexual intercourse is 'root', and the animal referred to in the wild-life manual is a wombat, not a panda.
The very old story then goes that the wombat enters an exclusive restaurant, consumes a delightful meal, makes passionate love to the delightful waitress as soon as he pays his bill, and leaves the restaurant amidst astounded stares from other diners.
One diner asks the waitress, "Are you OK? Why on earth did he do that?"
"I'm OK. He's a wombat, and I am getting used to it."
"What do you mean?"
The waitress produces a book of Australian wildlife. The entry for wombat reads, 'Wombat. Large furry mammal, endemic to Australia, eats exclusively, roots and leaves."
What a shame she did not name and attribute her title accurately?
John Barton (06/28/04)

This is a wonderful book: an absolute delight. Thankfully though it is writtenby a human being. Consequently it is not unflawed.

The author makes the mistake of assuming that Shakespeare, was written using printed punctuation marks. She makes this assumption early in her introductory chapter. Any classically trained actor will tell you that this was almost certainly not the case. Infact Shakespeare probably holds the key to the whole punctuation debate and within this posited argument, lies Lynne Truss' second flaw.

Punctuation, rather than being the "stitching" of language as she suggests, is in fact the stitching of language in its written mode. Punctuation is the means of giving all of those printed symbols the printed equivalent of breathing spaces. Too few people read much anymore, despite the fact that (as she rightly points out) many people now text on mobile 'phones and also append missives to web pages etc. We are used to the spoken word with all of the inflexions and breaks that punctuation mnarks are intended to replicate.

The point about Shakespeare is thus readily absorbed I trust. With the exception of "Lear", Shakespeare is written (or rather composed) in Iambic verse. Most scholars will know that iambic pentameter is that style of verse where ten beats represent the syllables of a thought or clause, di da di da etc. Few people ever question why it is not called DECA( ten) meter, as opposed to PENTA (five)meter. Di Dah di Dah is, as any classically trained verse speaker will tell you, a "foot".In speaking verse, a pause or cesura (ie comma) may be employed after two feet and in some rare cases a single foot. These cesurae and the use of upward inflection at the end of a line, is why the iambic medium was employed by Shakespeare; to aid otherwise illiterate actors in their learning process. It is the very reason why Shakespeare's early modern English becomes such a stumbling block for those of us brought up to read the printed version of the upward inflection and cesura, even though we don't comprehend them, any more.

This little sidetrack debate though should not detract from what is a book of great charm. Long live Lynne Truss and Victor Borge
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