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Rus Slater

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creative fun


Lynne Truss coined a famous example with "eats, shoots and leaves" as a phrase with a completely different meaning when the puctuation is removed or got wrong.

What other examples can you think of that prove the point that the poor punctuation promotes and perpetuates perplexity?

or where homophones (ie spelling) can have the same effect?

"owed to Joy..." for example

your turn!

9 Responses

  1. Its all in the punctuation

    Dear John:
    I want a man who knows what love is all about. You are generous, kind, thoughtful. People who are not like you admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me for other men. I yearn for you. I have no feelings whatsoever when we’re apart. I can be forever happy–will you let me be yours?

    As opposed to –

    Dear John:
    I want a man who knows what love is. All about you are generous, kind, thoughtful people, who are not like you. Admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me. For other men, I yearn. For you, I have no feelings whatsoever. When we’re apart, I can be forever happy. Will you let me be?

  2. The importance of punctuation!

    Hi Rus

    I remember from an HR type session I attended many years ago there was a story of an employee who wrote a letter of grievance which was taken as her letter of resignation. The main point went something like this:

    "Mr Smith is always finding fault with my work and tries to make my life a misery, so I resign."

    She had meant to say that Mr Smith was trying to get her to resign by picking on her, and was putting forward a grievance rather than her notice!

    Hope this helps.



  3. The spell checker

     Don’t know where this came from originally, but I included it in our business writing workbook. If you know where it originated, let me know, so I can credit them!

    Eye halve a spelling chequer. It came with my pea sea.

    It plainly marques four my revue Miss steaks eye kin knot sea.

    Eye strike a quay and type a word, then weight four it two say

    weather eye am wrong oar write … it shows me strait a weigh!

    As soon as a mist ache is maid, it nose bee fore two long.

    Then eye can put the error rite; its rare lea ever wrong.

    Aye have run this poem threw it; I am shore your pleased two no.

    Its letter perfect awl the weigh. My chequer tolled me sew.

    Louise Gelsthorpe – Power Hour: Bite size training materials

  4. Creative ideas

    Good posting – from the "creative world" of advertising came…..Nothing acts faster than Anadin

    So don’t buy Anadin? 



    QED Training

  5. Bad spelling

    if yuo can raed tihs, you hvae a sgtrane mnid, too.
    Can you raed tihs? Olny 55 plepoe out of 100 can.

    i cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno’t mtaetr in waht oerdr the ltteres in a wrod are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whotuit a pboerlm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Azanmig huh? yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt!  

  6. Following on from the Anadin…..

    Instructions on plastic bags "Keep away from children" (Good idea, they are noisy and messy!)

    On lifts in office blocks and hotels etc "In case of fire do not use lift" – is it saying that I should avoid using the lift in case I start a fire?

    I am sure our NLP friends would say that both of these are examples of "deletion"?

    Have a great weekend one and all.


  7. Not poor spelling but shows why you should beware of colloquiali

    A former colleague claimed he once went to Russia in pre-Gorbachev days and saw a sign at the hotel reception desk saying "if this is your first visit to the Soviet Union, you are welcome to it". True story? I don’t know, but I’ve used it once or twice.

    By the way, Lynne Truss didn’t actually coin the phrase "Eats shoots and leaves". I distinctly recall seeing it as the punchline to the riddle "why is a man like a panda?" in a rag mag published by Manchester University SU sometime in the early 80s!

  8. Punctuation and correct use of English

     For years I could never use an escalator on the Underground in London, because I could not obey the sign which said "Dogs must be carried". I did not have one.

  9. philip….

    ….that is a bit like the

    "wet paint"

    "this is not an instruction"



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Rus Slater


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