The New Yorker has a review of Eats, Shoots & Leaves (see earlier entry) by Louis Menand. This is a much more careful demolition job than mine. Menand points out inconsistencies in punctuation and that the book was not adapted for the American market. So many books are adapted, far too many, and yet here, where the punctuation rules are different, no changes were introduced.
The supreme peculiarity of this peculiar publishing phenomenon is that the British are less rigid about punctuation and related matters, such as footnote and bibliographic form, than Americans are. An Englishwoman lecturing Americans on semicolons is a little like an American lecturing the French on sauces. Some of Trusss departures from punctuation norms are just British laxness. In a book that pretends to be all about firmness, though, this is not a good excuse. The main rule in grammatical form is to stick to whatever rules you start out with, and the most objectionable thing about Truss’s writing is its inconsistency.
How true this rings. Oh, the times I used to tell my students, ‘You can’t do that. You know, the Americans are even more pedantic than we British are.’ Did they believe me? No – because pedantry is bad and Americans are good. Or if I said, ‘The Americans divide words differently from the British’, it was ‘You don’t like the Americans, do you, because you keep mentioning them.’ (We accepted both BE and AmE from German students, as far as we could, and we had both British and American staff, with the odd Australian or Irish person).
via Language Log.