Skip to main content

Sensible Punctuation

A panda that entered a restaurant, ordered food, and ate there. After finishing up, the panda stood up and fired a gun in the air before moving out of the restaurant. The waiter, confused, asked the panda why he did that. The panda handed him a wildlife manual and said, "I'm a panda, look it up." The waiter flipped the pages to the panda entry: "Panda. A black-and-white bear-like mammal, native of China. Eats, shoots and leaves."

I came across this joke in the book entitled "Eats, Shoots and Leaves" (by Lynne Truss) in February 2005, but I am reading it again this month just for kicks (it is really a humourous book, though reading it helps me with writing papers). The contents give me dizzying visions of red ink swirling over pages and pages of my theses (B.Sc. and Ph.D.) drafts.

As I delved deeper into reading this book, I realised that my academic supervisor, Prof Bob Gilbert, had also kept reminding his students, me included, on how to properly use punctuation marks in writing manuscripts. He once sent, by email, a chapter of "The Chemist's English" (by Robert Schoenfeld) called "One, Hand, Clapping" to all his students. As with the first book, the chapter has that extra comma in its title. Both authors discuss, at length, the importance of correct comma usage, and prescribe rules in using it. The chapter emphasised that some rules may be relaxed in conversational and informal English; however, scientific writing requires that the rules of punctuation be followed more closely – including equations (!). 

Non-native English speakers and writers probably do not mind being told the rules of punctuation. We normally get all of that in grammar classes anyway. The amazing thing, though, is that the target market of these books are native English speakers! I assumed that these people know their language quite well since they use it every single day, and they don't need to be taught the rules.

Then again, I may be wrong about the need for a manual on English punctuation. Filipino is the official language in the Philippines; despite this, the rules of Filipino sentence construction is taught in school, too.

Popular posts from this blog

my top 10 life lessons from Suits season 1

I enjoy watching this series on TV called "Suits". It follows a strong mentor-mentee relationship. Harvey Specter (played by Gabriel Macht), one of the best lawyers in the city, gives valuable lessons to his associate, Mike Ross (played by Patrick J. Adams), the lawyer without the law degree. I find myself taking notes (and tweeting them) as I watch the different episodes.
While waiting for the July 1 premiere of the second season of Suits on Jack TV, I list down the top ten lessons that I gleaned from watching the first season of series. It's not surprising that many of them came from the great Harvey Specter. There are few things in there that came from Mike and Harvey's arch-nemesis, Louis Litt (played by Rick Hoffman), as well.
NOTE: if these sound like a lecture, it's because these are notes I write to myself for when I need them... and to whoever is reading this list.

Here we go:
1. "First impressions last. Start behind the eight ball and you'll ne…

Federico de Vera's brand of beauty at the Ayala Museum

On my latest visit to the Ayala Museum this year, I was able to catch the exhibit curated by Federico de Vera. I haven't heard of him, most likely because I'm not part of the art circles. I'm just an occasional museum hopper who likes to visit beautiful art pieces. This time, I was about to learn what beauty is, in the eyes of famous curator de Vera.
I was blown away by how he presented art pieces he picked up from other art collectors. Some of these pieces I've seen in other museums before. BUT, these are presented in a more striking manner... Instagrammable being the first word that comes to my mind. Spot lighting and subtle backgrounds really make the artworks pop. Walking through the different sections of the exhibit, I kept saying wow to myself. I liked the way that the curator presented every piece... he succeeded in putting the best face of each piece on display. There was a sense of meticulousness in the detail... not just dumping pieces together on a table or…


Back in college, I used to play with the UPLB Ethnomusemblia, a group of students who liked to play traditional Filipino music as live accompaniment to the UPLB Filipiniana Dance Troupe, those students who performed Filipino local dances. Tribal music was what I learned with the group: music filled with textures of the sounds from kulintang and agong; the resonating sounds of simultaneously beaten gangsa; and the deep tones from the dabakan. However, I never learned how to play stringed instruments that are part of the rondalla. I attempted the banduria but to no avail. That's why I never learned to play the music for the tinikling; instead, I contented myself with listening to the rondalla people play the lively song.

Tinikling is the national dance of the Philippines. In this lively dance, the man and the woman imitate the movements of a tikling, a bird found in the country, over two parallel bamboo poles set horizontally on the floor. The dance is made more challenging as the b…