My grammar and general literacy skills aren’t as great as that of some of my friends, nor am I always as thorough in the proof-reading, but they do tend towards warm fuzzy feelings when I actually find a new or unfamiliar word in a book and have to look up. That’s after mentally ringing the typos and printing errors in the same book, or at the very least mentally disagreeing with the author as to whether a hyphen goes in A level/A-level, or not. It can be subjective and does depend on the sentence but as I hope even Lynne Truss would agree with me, there’s a a difference between the following:
I got A level (A level in what, a game? Should I be impressed?)
I got A-level (Implies a reply to a question, such as "How did you do in English?", and begs the question of what grade they achieved. (I only got an ‘E’, I must admit!))
Needless to say the mutilation of English language in on-line games and social media sites like Facebook can drive me to distraction as I fight the (ir)rational urge to correct everyone!
So, after wandering into the front room and finding me happily reading a copy of Eats, Shoots and Leaves (Lynne Truss) and asking
How is that going to help your OCD?, my daughter sent me the following link and message:
found you a site youll connect with http://www.apostrophecatastrophes.com/ notice that theres no full stop at the end off this
She is quite pleased with herself; she packed so many errors into the sentence that I missed one at first. In my defense I’d just glanced at the message, shuddered, and followed the link. I made it part way down the page of captured design and editorial howlers at Apostrophe Catastrophes before retreating in shock. Didn’t help that the web site – deliberately – added more of their own (to the subtitle).
Anyhow, if you want to know what an Oxford comma is, the difference between a hyphen and a dash, or simply read a refreshingly interesting book on grammar that can casually drop words like solecism1, logorrhoeic2 and onomatopoeias3, give Eats, Shoots and Leaves a try.
1 A grammatical error in in speech or writing that changes the sentence, a gaffe.
2 Undue wordiness, basically verbal diarrhea!
3 Words that sound like the thing, e.g. buzz, hiss, cuckoo.
If you like that book, you might also like My Grammar and I (Or Should That Be ‘Me’?): Old-School Ways to Sharpen Your English by Caroline Taggart, J A Wines. You can’t curl up on the couch in the same way but it is an easy read for a grammar book and does give some very good examples.
Web designers and bloggers that like grammatical precision and dislike having their marks, characters and symbols removed, altered or changed by language settings and browser peculiarities might find this page helpful : HTML Character codes: Symbols