Thursday, May 25, 2006

Apostrophe Catastrophe

For so long I have kept quiet. For so long I’ve held my tongue, played nice, looked the other way. No more.

There’s a fantastically hilarious book entitled Eats, Shoots and Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by the wonderful Lynne Truss. In the back cover, she tells the following story:

A panda walks into a café. 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 towards 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 is only occasionally a matter of life and death.

You see, Ms. Truss is on a crusade, one which I fully support. She’s always railed against such common horrors like “Two Weeks Notice” (What, no apostrophe? Horrors!) or “No dog’s allowed” or “The judges decision is final” with a fervor of a born again fanatic—but without the superiority attitude. Her attitude is classic stickler’s attitude: wrong is wrong and should be pointed out, if not corrected.

So in the spirit of Ms. Truss’s book let me say this: “we’re” is NOT the same as “were.”

May I repeat again for the second time in a row: “we’re” is NOT the same as “were.” If you can use “we are” or “we were” then it’s “we’re”, not “were.” That’s all there is to it. Saying that it’s the same banana is so not true. Don’t give bananas a bad rep; oh poor fruit. And saying, “Oh it’s just an online journal” also smacks of irresponsibility, carelessness and a willingness to do wrong. What next, gassing of Jews?

Please, please, please! The book is available at Powerbooks for less than five hundred bucks. Do yourself and everyone else a favor and get one. Then you can eat shoots before leaving.

* * * * *

Quote for the day: So many men, so little… interest in me.

Hi McVie! I'm not a punctuation expert, but ...... "What next"? Shouldn't that be "What's next"? HeHeHe!
If formal, yes. As an informal expression and as an indicator of extreme exasperation, "what next" will do. Like in the sentence: "What next, anonymous comments from people who don't have the balls to identify themselves?!" Ehehehe.
Hahaha. I've been thinking about getting that book for a while now! Ganda ba talaga? Sige, bibili ako.

Americans seem to have a stronger tendency to mangle punctuation, when compared to Filipinos who have had good English education. Talagang super common dito ang its/it's, were/we're, and all of that bullshit.

Eto pa... so many Kano dummies seem to think that an apostrophe is required to pluralize anything, so imbes na "cars", they write "car's", or "website's" instead of "websites". And as if to rub salt on the wound, when it comes time to write words that actually DO require apostrophes, they omit them! Hahaha. Ganda.

Another great book to add to my library.

Considering Elements of Style by Strunk and White as THE bible, Eats, Shoots & Leaves will definitely be a gem.

Thanks for mentioning it.
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