Eats, shoots and leaves

Sunday, September 21, 2008 3 Comments

People come and go. Only few make an impact. Manoj entered my life as one of my recruits, but stayed back as my best friend. His smart replies and his no nonsense attitude during the interview process, made me sit up and observe him . After he joined us, we started to share our poems and criticized on each others works. Our conversations always centered up on books, poets and English. Every other week, I will be loaded with books to read and DVD's to watch.

He is an exact replica of my brother, Srini. Both of them are agressive, head strong and can never suffer fools. Though younger to me, I am not ashamed to admit that I look up to them at moments of my distress and always was rewarded back with suggestions and guidance on how to face the issue. Though not active bloggers, once in a while they do posts some interesting reads.

Manoj's recent posting happens to be my title to this post, "Eat, shoots and leaves". Incidentally he borrowed this title from Lynne Truss. I read his post and commented on it. Next day, he bought me a brand new copy of this book and asked me to read it. I some how thought it was going to be like, "The Anguished English", about which I wrote a post some time back.

But this is a serious book on the author's zero tolerant approach to punctuations. Though she uses anecdotes to lighten, the message is clear on what we are doing to today's English.

It goes like this...

"A panda walks into a café. He orders a sandwich, eats it, then draws a gun and proceeds to fire it at the other patrons.
'Why?' asks the confused, surviving waiter amidst the carnage, as the panda makes towards the exit. The panda produces a badly punctuated wildlife manual and tosses it over his shoulder.
'Well, I'm a panda', he says, at the door. 'Look it up.'
The waiter turns to the relevant entry in the manual and, sure enough, finds an explanation. 'Panda. Large black-and-white bear-like mammal, native to China. Eats, shoots and leaves.' "

Though it sounds like a joke derived from a bad punctuation mistake, the seriousness of such an error lashes out at us. The book is witty, thought-provoking, and brief. The author is so passionate about punctuations.

Few excerpts, to make you yearn for this book:

Instead of “What would you with the king?” you can have someone say in Marlowe’s Edward II, “What? Would you? With the king?” The consequences of mispunctuation (and re-punctuation) have appealed to both great and little minds, and in the age of the fancy-that email a popular example is the comparison of two sentences:

A woman, without her man, is nothing.
A woman: without her, man is nothing.

Which, I don’t know, really makes you think, doesn’t it? Here is a popular “Dear Jack” letter that works in much the same fundamentally pointless way:

Dear Jack,

I want a man who knows what love is all about. You are generous, kind, thoughtful. People who are not like you admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me for other men. I yearn for you. I have no feelings whatsoever when we’re apart. I can be forever happy – will you let me be yours?


Dear Jack,
I want a man who knows what love is. All about you are generous, kind, thoughtful people, who are not like you. Admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me. For other men I yearn! For you I have no feelings whatsoever. When we’re apart I can be forever happy. Will you let me be?


But just to show there is nothing very original about all this, five hundred years before email a similarly tiresome puzzle was going round:

Every Lady in this Land Hath 20 Nails on each Hand; Five & twenty on Hands and Feet; And this is true, without deceit.

(Every lady in this land has twenty nails. On each hand, five; and twenty on hands and feet.)

Try to read a copy and you will enjoy it too. :-)


Some say he’s half man half fish, others say he’s more of a seventy/thirty split. Either way he’s a fishy bastard. Google

3 Candles:

You can add one more apart from Strong Head -- Stable Head :)

Eventhough, i'm not that great in english, i have read few pages of that book, when i went to book shop. Its a good book to read.

Unknown said...

yeah that too...blowing your own trumpet uh??? how modest my dear bro... got to take a lesson or two from you on how to promote one's self image.

do whatever work...but i believe that you should know how to PR yourself whether in a modest way like me or like Shahrukh ;)

wisdom comes with experience

At one, I learnt crawling was fun. At forty one, I still feel crawling is fun #blamemykneesnotme