Eats, Shoots and Leaves

Posted by martin.parnell |

Next Event:

Lacrosse Quest 24


  • Start: 7.00pm Friday May 4th 2012

  • Finish: 7.00pm Saturday May 5th 2012

  • Location:South Fish Creek Recreational Centre, Calgary

  • RTP Fundraising Target: $50,000

  • RTP Fundraising Actual: $805

I'm afraid of three things, the Black Widow spider, Giant Killer jelly fish and English grammar. I remember many moons ago sitting at a wooden desk, in grade 3, as the teacher slowly marched up and down the classroom reading out the daily list of twenty spelling words.

Fast forward to the 1980's and the invention of spell check for PC's. I thought my dreams had been answered; however, things are never that straight forward. Check out the poem below:

Eye have a spelling chequer,
It came with my Pea Sea.
It plane lee marks four my revue
Miss Steaks I can knot sea.

Eye strike the quays and type a whirred
And weight four it two say
Weather eye am write oar wrong
It tells me straight a weigh.

Eye ran this poem threw it,
Your shore real glad two no.
Its vary polished in its weigh.
My chequer tolled me sew.

A chequer is a bless thing,
It freeze yew lodes of thyme.
It helps me right all stiles of righting,
And aides me when eye rime.

Each frays come posed up on my screen
Eye trussed too bee a joule.
The chequer pours o'er every word
Two cheque sum spelling rule.

My spell checker shows no problem with the contents but clearly its rubbish (but fun).

Last fall, I signed up as a Substitute Resource Assistant for the Rocky View Schools Division. I've been in a number of times to help out and in mid February I received a call from a local Cochrane School. I've very much enjoyed working with the kids and giving help wherever possible. I have no problems with quadratic equations, the periodic table or the history of the First World War, however I ran into trouble with a Grade 4 English class.

The teacher asked me to mark a punctuation exercise: linking adverbs to verbs. Cold beads of sweat started to form on my forehead and my heart rate hit 160. Fortunately, the teacher had marked several pages so I managed to figure out the rest of the answers. That was a close call.

Then a week ago, I received the edited manuscript of "Marathon Quest" from  Meaghan Craven. Meaghan has been retained, as editor, by Rocky Mountain Books and I have been working closely with her for the past two months. There's still lots of work to do on the document but luckily, I have my "Grammar Queen", Sue. She helps me sort out my colon from semi-colon and limits my run-on sentences.

I've now decided to take control of the situation. This morning, I ordered Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation. This is a non-fiction book written by Lynne Truss the former host of the 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.

The title of the book is an amphibology - a verbal fallacy arising from an ambiguous grammatical construction-and derived from a joke on 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, at the door. '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.'

It just goes to show that you can teach an old Panda new tricks.

Joke of the Day

  • Q: Why did the Panda like "The Artist"
  • A: Because it was in Black and White!

Eats, Shoots and Leaves

Eats, Shoots and Leaves


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