The Grammar and Punctuation

Mary Newton Bruder (aka The Grammar Lady) lives in Pittsburgh, PA, an old lady who has strived to improve the grammar of American people. When I was browsing the books shelves in local library, the title of the book Much Ado About A Lot, caught my eye. This book was written by the grammar lady and published in 2000. It is not a commercial success as the British writer Lynne Truss’ Eats, Shoots & Leaves, which is published in UK in 2003 and in USA in 2004, sold more than 500,000 copies in UK and became a New York Times national bestseller.

See, here is a grammar question: Should I put down "Truss’s" or "Truss’"? According to Truss, "Truss’s" may be preferable. But exceptions are made when the "s" is pronounced as /iz/, or in the holy name "Jesus", or other historical names like Achilles’ heel. It seems so complicated!!! However, as to the usage of apostrophe, there is some space for personal style and preference.

Well, of course in this kind of books, generally written by females, a lot of goofy grammar  mistakes, or punctuational  problems are illustrated. Some of them are produced by Bill Gates, Bill Clinton, John Grisham, Tom Clancy, John Updike, etc., people who have been acclaimed as smart, literate, successful, and even being famous writers themselves. They still make mistakes, and the sticklers like Lynn Truss mercilessly points out every thing wrong.

The Grammar Lady once answered grammar-related questions for VOA, and Lynn Truss, BBC radio.

I may not agree with the purists of language, but I admire the fight against the vulgar usage of the language. Generally, I am a stickler and more like a language purist than not. When I read the manuscripts of other persons’ papers, sometimes I feel horrible to see they don’t use "it’s" and "its" correctly, and not being able to clearly express themselves. And this is not the problem that only occurs in America. I believe that the Chinese language has deteriorated even deeper – just read a few posts in a popular BBS and you will agree with me.

By the way, the title of the Lynn Truss’s book comes from the punctuation joke below:

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.”

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