Thursday, February 21, 2008


Those who know me are aware that I tend to be a bit of a stickler for good grammar. While I use a more informal style of writing in blogs and might end a sentence with a preposition once in a while, I hope that I live up to my own standards. I was a bit of a grammar nerd before I became a Dow Jones Newspaper Fund intern and developed a love for copy editing; however, that job made me even more obsessed with finding and correcting grammatical errors. I enjoy grammar blogs and have linked a few on this blog. While going through my Firefox bookmarks today, I found two New York Times articles on the difference a little punctuation can make....

This article discusses the use (or lack of use) of the semicolon , which is my favorite punctuation mark. The inspiration for the article was the use of the semicolon on a sign on a New York subway train. It's a fun little article that examines why it is surprising to see a semicolon used at all, let alone used correctly. Three days after the article's publication, it is the second most e-mailed story on the newspaper's Web site. My absolute favorite part of the article, however, is the correction at the bottom:

An article in some editions on Monday about a New York City Transit employee’s deft use of the semicolon in a public service placard was less deft in its punctuation of the title of a book by Lynne Truss, who called the placard a “lovely example” of proper punctuation. The title of the book is “Eats, Shoots & Leaves” — not “Eats Shoots & Leaves.” (The subtitle of Ms. Truss’s book is “The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation.”)

The irony makes me laugh.

The other article is an opinion piece on whether the placement of commas in the Second Amendment changes the meaning of the Amendment. The writer says that the comma placement has been a topic of debate in many court cases involving gun rights, but argues that comma placement probably had nothing to do with the framers' intent. He also argues that the best way to read the Amendment would be to take away the commas entirely, in which case it would be logical to interpret the Amendment to be more about protecting militias than protecting individual rights to own guns.


Jill A said...

Ah, yes, to be a grammar nazi is to be in heaven. Sort of. Well, I mean, not if you want to have any friends.

However, I must say, "Eats, Shoots & Leaves" is probably the best book title in the history of the English language.

Jobetta said...

I'm told that "Eats, Shoots & Leaves" actually has grammatical errors and isn't the best book.

But I bought it for my dad, who teaches remedial writing at a community college, just because I like the gun-toting panda bear on the cover.