Panda-monium

Editor's//Comment

 

Panda-monium

 

By David Riggs

 

I recently read Lynne Truss very clever book Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation. She is trading on the old joke about the panda who walks into a caf , orders, eats, shoots the waiter, and leaves. As the panda makes its way toward the exit, the confused maitre d asks the Panda why he shot the waiter. The Panda tosses the maitre d a poorly punctuated wildlife manual and tells him to look up Panda. Flipping through the book, the maitre d finds this entry:

 

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

 

Maybe this is a book only an editor can love, but the passion Truss, a self-proclaimed stickler, brings to punctuation the poor stepchild of grammar as referenced by Frank McCourt in the foreword is long overdue in mainstream publishing. Granted, some of her examples illustrate simple rules that everyone should know. Like its versus it s . And who hasn t seen a sign for Fresh Donut s or Book s for Sale ? For many, this type of gaffe is simply annoying if noticed at all. For some, like Truss, these blunders are sacrilegious. (I fall just short of Truss extreme viewpoint; mostly I am disappointed that many people simply don t know any better.) But in addition to being excessively annoying, desultory syntax can be downright confusing. Textual and contextual pandemonium, if you will. For instance, note this example Truss cites:

 

Now I must go and get on, my lover.

 

This sentence takes on a whole new meaning when presented thus:

 

Now I must go and get on my lover.

 

Now that I have your attention ... at asp.netPRO, we strive to provide the very best in content, and that includes ensuring we present material with correct language, grammar, and yes, punctuation. Because, as Truss very aptly and abundantly makes clear, without sticking to some conventions, we are headed for miscommunication, misunderstanding, and, dare I say it, mayhem. And that is never more true than in the code you write. Take this little snippet for example:

 

 Select Case intYear

   Case 1,2

         'Do the 1 or 2 thing

   Case 3

        'Do the 3 thing

 End Select       

 

But leave out our friend the comma and see what happens:

 

 Select Case intYear

   Case 12

        'Do the 1 or 2 thing -- OOPS!

   Case 3

        'Do the 3 thing

 End Select       

 

Our goal at asp.netPRO is to minimize if not eliminate the chaos. There is enough pandemonium in the world without us adding to it.

 

Thanks for reading.

 

David Riggs is editor-in-chief of asp.netPRO and its companion e-newsletter, asp.netNOW. Reach him at mailto:[email protected].

 

 

 

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