Fun with punctuation

Lynne Truss, author of U.K. bestseller Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation, lists her “top 10 books for wordsmiths.” Strunk & White’s The Elements of Style makes the cut, as does The King’s English: A Guide to Modern Usage, by Kingsley Amis, which Truss describes this way:

Cantankerous but very enjoyable rulings on the state of the language. Personally, I wish Amis had not included the breathtakingly misogynist section on “womanese” (evidently women “are always getting set phrases wrong”). But there is much joy to be had elsewhere in the book. Where would we be without Amis’s brilliantly abusive classification system of “berks and wankers”? (Berks being those who care less than us about the fate of the language; wankers being those who care more.)

From a 1997 review of Amis’ The King’s English:

Amis says the misuse of jejune is his favourite solecism of all time. It means (from the Latin) starving, meagre, but people thought of it as a fancy version of the French word jeune (young) and used it to mean something like naive. He claims to have seen it italicised and with an accent as jejeune – “the deportation of an English word into French, surely a unique event”.


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