It looks like the Americans are going to get a Trussing too. Whatever the article says, the reason this humorous punctuation guide was such a bestseller in Britain at Christmas isn’t a mystery. In our crappy English comprehensives very few teachers teach punctuation well and very few pupils overcome the peer pressure not to learn. People would love to learn to write clearly, but no one gives them the chance. Instead, in English language lessons, they are asked to compose free-form poetry about war or try to write a news report in the style of a tabloid/broadsheet/comedy sketch. Why can’t someone just teach them how to write? The statistics make me want to cry. Elvis was always poor and hungry as child and never stopped being hungry when he was rich enough to feed himself to excess. Badly educated children grow up into adults who want their minds feeding.
I had the good fortune to grow up in a house containing English language textbooks. Once my mother had taught me to read, it seemed natural to pull some of the books down from the shelves and get my dad to teach me to write. If the teaching is witty and inventive, studying grammar can be fun—until a peer group of sour, lazy, incurious brats tells you that it’s “sad”.
Now. How long do you think it’ll be before my dad submits a comment to complain about a poorly punctuated adverbial sub-clause in the above post?
UPDATE: Shouldn’t the composite adjective “zero tolerance” in the book’s subtitle be hyphenated?
Surely this can’t be your mistake!
Funnily enough, it is. I used a US spellchecker on this entry, noted that it had suggested “humorous” and chose “Ignore” because I always do when it tries to correct “humour” to “humor”.
When I’d finished, I looked at the text and thought “that looks strange”, then left it as it was.
I am now tempted to leave my mistake as a monument to the potential folly of second-guessing computers.