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Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation is a non-fiction book written by Lynne Truss, the former host of BBC Radio 4's Cutting a Dash programme. In the book, published in 2003, Truss bemoans the state of punctuation in the United Kingdom and the United States and describes how rules are being relaxed in today's society. Her goal is to remind readers of the importance of punctuation in the English language by mixing humour and instruction.
Overview: There is one chapter each on apostrophes; commas; semicolons and colons; exclamation marks, question marks and quotation marks; italic type, dashes, brackets, ellipses and emoticons; and the last one on hyphens. Truss touches on varied aspects of the history of punctuation and includes many anecdotes, which add another dimension to her explanations of grammar. In the book's final chapter, she opines on the importance of maintaining punctuation rules and addresses the damaging effects of email and the Internet on punctuation.
The title of the book is a syntactic ambiguity—a verbal fallacy arising from an ambiguous grammatical construction—and derived from a joke about bad punctuation:
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. "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."
An Educational Companion to EATS, SHOOTS and LEAVES by Lynne Truss pdf
Sub-titled video of the author reading EATS, SHOOTS and LEAVES (fast British English)
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