Tuesday, 22 October 2013

The curse of being able to read accurately

I see that Lynne Truss is giving up on lecturing people about punctuation. She’s not giving up on punctuation, just on lecturing people about it.

It’s a shame. It is ten years since her book on the subject, Eats, Shoots & Leaves, came out and of course she cannot be expected to carry the torch for punctuation single handed.

The book cannot maintain its currency for ever, even though its contents will certainly hold good for many years (we could hope for ever!). Shops stock other books; people move on and buy other books.

In her weekly article recently in the Sunday Telegraph (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/journalists/lynne-truss/10382533/Lynne-Truss-its-no-longer-useful-to-be-able-to-read-accurately.html) Ms Truss cites several examples where missing or incorrect punctuation could have led to misunderstandings.

The trouble, she says, is that people expect you to be able to understand what they’re trying to say. The keywords is trying. People like Ms Truss who understand punctuation understand what people have written, not what they’re trying to write. It is a curse.

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