Wednesday, 26 October 2011

A panda walks into a café...or, how punctuation is Very Important

My very own version of 'Eats, shoots and leaves' happened yesterday - funnily enough, when I was looking for my quotation for today's blog. But first...

I assumed that everyone knows 'Eats, shoots and leaves' and then I thought...perhaps everyone doesn't? Not everyone is like me and a bit of a stickler about correct punctuation. A bit of a stickler is actually a bit of a euphemism.

(PLEASE don't be a bore and go through all my blogs looking for punctuation mistakes. I'm SURE there are plenty. The difference is, I CARE.)

Here's the story that led Lynne Truss to write...

A panda walks into a cafe. He orders a sandwich, eats it, then draws a gun and fires two shots in the air.

"Why?" asks the confused waiter, as the panda makes towards the exit. The panda produces a badly punctuated wildlife manual and tosses it over his shoulder.
"I'm a panda," he says, at the door. "Look it up."

The waiter turns to the relevant entry and, sure enough, finds an explanation.

"Panda. Large black-and-white bear-like mammal, native to China. Eats, shoots and leaves."

See, the misplaced comma that completely changes the meaning of the last sentence...

My search for a relevant quotation for today was on the subject of relief. Relief that I've finally come to the end of a huge project and relief that my earache is at last, fingers crossed, touch wood, beginning to go away. I hope.
So, I came across THIS quotation by American actress, Lily Tomlin:

"For fast acting relief, try slowing down." 

I looked at it and I puzzled. Why does Lily Tomlin want relief from acting? Doesn't she like her job?  And fast relief too! She must be desperate.

THEN I realised...there was a missing hyphen.

Now THAT'S a quote that I can relate to. Where would we be without punctuation?