Part of one’s despair, of course, is that the world cares nothing for the little shocks endured by the sensitive stickler. While we look in horror at a badly punctuated sign, the world carries on around us, blind to our plight. We are like the little boy in The Sixth Sense who can see dead people, except that we can see dead punctuation. Whisper it in petrified little-boy tones: dead punctuation is invisible to everyone else – yet we see it all the time. No one understands us seventh-sense people. They regard us as freaks.
And so opines Lynne Truss in the first chapter of Eats, Shoots and Leaves, her little book on punctuation. I just had to quote her here after I just started to read her book and immediately felt connected to it. I’m one of those people, those “seventh-sense” people that “look in horror at a badly punctuated sign”. Spelling mistakes, grammar mistakes – I notice them all the time.
Oh I’m sure I’m not a perfect punctuationist or grammatician (I think I just made those words up) myself. I’m extremely conscious of everything I’m writing here just in case some of it is wrong (I’m sure it is)! But hey, at least I know the basics. A possessive ‘its’ has no apostrophe in it. The contraction of ‘it is’ does. ‘You did good’ is not correct, but ‘you did well’ is. (Hey, I didn’t grow up with teachers for parents for nothing!)
Even though I’m feeling pretty geeky at the moment, reading a book on punctuation, I think I’m going to actually like it. The best thing about the book is that Ms. Truss is British and will guide me in the right, British (read Canadian) way to punctuate. (See above: “badly punctuated sign”. with the period after the quotation mark is British!) Something that’s not American for once! I’ll revel in that while I can.
Well, I’m off to read about pandas and punctuation.
Your friendly seventh-sense stickler