I’m not a stickler but…

…I’ve very much enjoyed the New Yorker’s dismissal of Lynne Truss’s Eats, Shoots and Leaves, for which I must thank Gordon McLean. It’s very brave of Truss’s publishers to go stateside (I guess they’re emboldened by huge success over here) because Americans have far higher standards of English. The New Yorker rightly questions the value of a book supposedly written to uphold British English to an American audience and then explains that where Truss has attempted a comparison, she’s often got the US usage wrong.

I’ve been lucky enough to work for a number of American businesses and, unlike their British counterparts, they pay real attention to detail and many can actually write themselves. Over here you get directors (often within FTSE100 companies) suggesting stuff be placed in quotes for emphasis (I’ve been tempted to ask why we’re so unsure of ourselves). But Americans know their stuff and you can’t get away with anything. Tell them that’s the British usage and rather than run away, they expect an impromptu lecture (to which they listen attentively… oh dear).

Anyway. The New Yorker article moves on from demolishing Truss to a good discussion of the writer’s voice and Gordon (whose blog’s clean design is to be very much admired) ask how hyperlinks can be incorporated into punctuation. I think it would be good to see rules developed here, but suspect that hyperlinks will remain a question of style rather than grammar for sometime to come.

BOOK REVIEW: Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss

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