Punctuation-important or a thing of the past?
February 28, 2012
…and if it is no longer important, what does that say about the printed word?
I just finished reading the delightful Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss. What an interesting and fun book! The little anecdotes about misuse of punctuation and the history about punctuation’s development are particularly enjoyable if you yourself can be classified as a “stickler”. I admit that I do find an overwhelming urge to correct Facebook posts and items I see on the TV ticker. If you find language fascinating, this quick read will give you a chuckle, give you pause (……), and help you to feel a kinship with other sticklers in the world.
Truss easily makes you see how important punctuation is, and why it was developed in the first place. She gives great examples of misuse, or the consequences of misuse. Here is an example of punctuation misuse I found online:
The printed word is presented to us in a linear way, with syntax supreme in conveying the sense of the words in their order. We read privately, mentally listening to the writer’s voice and translating the writer’s thoughts. The book remains static and fixed; the reader journeys through it. Picking up the book in the first place entails an active pursuit of understanding. Holding the book, we are aware of posterity and continuity. Knowing that the printed word is always edited, typeset and proof-read before it reaches us, we appreciate its literary authority…….these conditions are overturned by the new technologies. Information is presented…in a non-linear way, through an exponential series of lateral associations. The internet is a public “space” which you visit…we read material…entirely passively because all of the associative thinking has already been done on our behalf. Electronic media are intrinsically ephemeral, are open to perpetual revision, and work quite strenuously against any sort of historical perception.