Eats, Shoots & Leaves

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mingshey
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Eats, Shoots & Leaves

Post by mingshey » Wed Jun 23, 2004 12:49 am

Quite off topic even for an open forum it may be, but it's at least about linguistics, so, just a little tolerance, please. :)

Lynne Truss, Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation

I just got a rumor that this is a new NYT best seller.
the title is from this story:
A panda walked into a cafe. He ordered a sandwich, ate it, then pulled
out a gun and fired a shot at the waiter and left. The waiter,
obviously furious, caught up to the panda and asked, "Why did you do that
for? I thought pandas were not violent!". The panda shrugged and took
out an encyclopedia, found the entry for "Panda" and showed it to him.
It said, "Large black and white mammal native to China. Eats, shoots
and leaves."

a quote from the book:

A MANHATTAN real estate broker has just notified me, on heavy stationery,
that ''the New York market is remaining vibrant with the goal of buying a
home being a principle interest for purchaser's to either upscale or
downscale their homes.''


What's the ambiguity in this sentence? I cannot grasp it. :?

chad
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Post by chad » Wed Jun 23, 2004 3:08 am

that's a horrible sentence. grammatically, you could put a comma after "home" (instead of after "vibrant") attaching the "with" clause to the initial clause, making the whole sentence sound even worse than it already does... either way principle should be principal and purchaser's shouldn't have an apostrophe.

that tortured way of writing english, stuffing too many prepositional clauses into one sentence, dates back i think to the days when lawyers were paid by the word and the page...

Fair Terentia
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Post by Fair Terentia » Thu Jun 24, 2004 9:53 am

I think this is a book I have to read, being pernickety about punctuation!

I came across this sign by a road recently:

Professional video camera's for sale

which is ambiguous.

Democritus
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Post by Democritus » Thu Jun 24, 2004 4:00 pm

Fair Terentia wrote:Professional video camera's for sale

which is ambiguous.
The authoritative lawgiver for punctuation is, of course, Mr. Language Person, a.k.a. Dave Barry:
Dave Barry wrote:Dear Mister Language Person: What is the purpose of the apostrophe?

Answer: The apostrophe is used mainly in hand-lettered small business signs to alert the reader than an "S" is coming up at the end of a word, as in: WE DO NOT EXCEPT PERSONAL CHECK'S, or: NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY ITEM'S. Another important grammar concept to bear in mind when creating hand- lettered small-business signs is that you should put quotation marks around random words for decoration, as in "TRY" OUR HOT DOG'S, or even TRY "OUR" HOT DOG'S.

-- Dave Barry, "Tips for Writer's"

Democritus
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Re: Eats, Shoots & Leaves

Post by Democritus » Thu Jun 24, 2004 4:36 pm

Professional video camera's for sale
I wonder what sorts of usage vexed the ancients. Are there any texts by classical Latin or Greek authors, with complaints about contemporary usage or bad grammar? What was the Roman equivalent of that pesky apostrophe?

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Emma_85
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Post by Emma_85 » Thu Jun 24, 2004 6:23 pm

We have the book at home, but I haven't read it yet.

I don't think the ancients would have had much trouble with the punctuation, they just ignored it totally.
phpbb

chad
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Post by chad » Fri Jun 25, 2004 12:01 am

hi em, there was a little bit of punctuation in latin. it wasn't used by everybody though. they had this system of one dot for a space either between words or between phrases, then 2 or more dots (like our semi-colon) for bigger structures like clauses. there's a big A4-sized book called latin punctuation or something which provides thrilling reading and non-stop laughs :)

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Post by Democritus » Fri Jun 25, 2004 12:24 am

Emma_85 wrote:I don't think the ancients would have had much trouble with the punctuation, they just ignored it totally.
Oh yes... what I had in mind was, generally, usages which are nominally incorrect and downright annoying, but which nonetheless keep popping up all over the place. Not specifically punctuation, but any grammatical or stylistical errors.

What's the Latin word for "ain't" ? Or "between you and I" ? ;)

I'll bet Cicero complained about contortions of grammar. But I'm only guessing.

Michaelyus
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Post by Michaelyus » Fri Jun 25, 2004 7:26 pm

I suppose they fell into the (very bad) habit of always using the nominative. Something which Cicero would have (almost certainly) disliked. But verbs seemed to have kept themselves free from the corruption the nouns and adjectives went through.

How did the Spaniards get ser and estar out of esse?
phpbb

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