Guilt, Punctuation And Grammar.

On Conrad’s LBC post Guilty Pleasures last Friday, I had left the following two comments.

Why are you feeling guilty?

Sorry, the emphasis is on the YOU.

I had to write the second comment in as this simple five word sentence can be understood in five different ways and five possibly different answers can be given.
WHY, are you feeling guilty?
Why,ARE, you feeling guilty?
Why are, YOU,feeling guilty?
Why are you, FEELING, guilty?
Why are you feeling, GUILTY?

Get where I am going? This is why I prefer face to face conversations rather than the written word!

This thought process reminds me of Bhaja Govindam, a very popular treatise on Hinduism with easily remembered verses in Sanskrit ascribed to Adi Shankara.

The first stanza translated reads thus:

Seek Govinda, Seek Govinda,
Seek Govinda, O Fool!
When the appointed times comes (death),
grammar rules surely will not save you.

This stanza is repeated as a chorus at the end of each subsequent stanza.

It also reminds me of a Mullah Nasrudding story;
Mullah Nasruddin ferrying a scholar across a river said something ungrammatical to him.
“Have you never studied grammar?” asked the scholar.
“No,” said the Mullah.
“Then half your life has been wasted,” said the scholar looking pityingly at him.
Sometime later the good Mullah turned to his passenger.
“Have you ever learnt to swim?” he asked.
“No,” said the scholar.
“Then your whole life has been wasted,” said the Mullah. “We’re sinking.”

Then of course there is the immortal story Eats Shoots and Leaves by Lynn Truss.

A Panda Bear walks into a cafĂ© and orders a sandwich and a drink. After he is finished eating, the waiter comes over to bring him the check. When the waiter arrives at the table, he just starts to ask ‘Would you like any des…’ Then the Panda Bear reaches into his fur, pulls out a gun, and shoots the waiter dead. The Panda Bear then wipes off his chin with his napkin, gets up, and starts to walk out. Just as he is about to go through the door, the manager grabs him. ‘Wait a minute!’ he yells, ‘You just killed my best waiter! Besides that, you didn’t even pay for your sandwich!’

The Panda Bear grasps the manager by the throat, jacks him up, and growls, ‘Hey man! I’m a PANDA! Do you know what that means? Why don’t you look it up!’

At this the Panda walks out the door and ambles down the street. The manager, shaken, returns to his office and consults a dictionary.

He reads:
‘panda – a large mammal of the Asian mountain forests related to raccoons and true bears and characterized by bold black and white markings. Eats shoots and leaves.’

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