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Old 04-28-2013, 09:08 PM   #1
VydorScope
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Strunk & White.

Saw this posted to another forum....

Quote:
This writer is not a fan of Strunk & White. http://chronicle.com/article/50-Year...-Grammar/25497
What do y'all think?
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Old 04-29-2013, 03:08 AM   #2
crich70
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It is available for free download in epub or Kindle format over at Feedbooks. Don't know how well formatted the epub version is but the Kindle version looks good.
Elements of Style
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Old 04-29-2013, 06:16 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crich70 View Post
It is available for free download in epub or Kindle format over at Feedbooks. Don't know how well formatted the epub version is but the Kindle version looks good.
Elements of Style
Riiiiiight, but did you read the article? What are your thoughts on it?
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Old 04-29-2013, 06:48 AM   #4
Graham
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The first part of the article annoyed me. The author rails against Strunk and White for decrying the passive voice, saying that there are plenty of times when the passive is a good choice, then noting rather grudgingly that S&W go on to say the same:

Quote:
The authors explicitly say they do not mean "that the writer should entirely discard the passive voice," which is "frequently convenient and sometimes necessary." They give good examples to show that the choice between active and passive may depend on the topic under discussion."
The author then ignores that S&W basically agree with him and goes back to railing at them again.

However, as the article continued the points made were accurate and interesting, but I do think a little picky. Sure, perhaps S&W are guilty of not following their own advice but Elements of Style is hardly a verbose, padded, unclear text. It's survived for 50 years precisely because it's small, clear and handy.

Should you follow it blindly? Of course not. Should you be aware that people critiquing your work may be following it? Of course.

Graham

Last edited by Graham; 04-29-2013 at 06:51 AM.
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Old 04-29-2013, 07:15 AM   #5
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I basically agree with the article author that Strunk & White is vastly overrated and not a book I would recommend to anyone who wants to understand American English grammar. The book tries to distill complex topics into 5-word sentences that are easy to remember, but it really fails at what is more important than remembering a generalization, that is, to understand the reasoning behind what ultimately can be condensed to 5-word platitudes.

If you are looking for guidance on usage, there are much better books available, although they do cost more than Strunk & White and can't be read in a minute-and-a-half like S&W. If you want to know about grammar, there are far better books available, such as Whose Grammar Book is This Anyway by C. Edward Good, which is a B&N reprint for $7.98.

S&W gained a myth-like following because it was short and succinct, which meant that both teachers and 6th graders could read it and understand it without much difficulty. Teachers accepted it because it is hard to combat a rule that says "be clear" and there was no need to delve into the reasoning for the rule.

If the only way you can justify an editorial decision is to cite S&W, then the decision is likely to be on very shaky grounds.
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Old 04-29-2013, 08:01 AM   #6
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I enjoyed reading the article. While I can see the objection raised by Graham, I have a feeling it was written as it was for entertainment purposes rather than succinct argument and to that end I thought it worked. The success of the book is perhaps the best demonstration of the advantages being clear. Being clear can be better than being right - if you want to sell well. People want easy and comforting answers, even if they're the wrong ones.
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Old 04-29-2013, 11:59 AM   #7
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Quote:
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People want easy and comforting answers, even if they're the wrong ones.
This is the best explanation of the success of Strunk and White's horrid little book I have ever seen.
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Old 04-29-2013, 01:39 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VydorScope View Post
Riiiiiight, but did you read the article? What are your thoughts on it?
Riiiiiiight, but you're the one that started this, what do YOU think?

I love Strunk and White as clearly do many others primarily for is succinct clarity.

Last edited by kennyc; 04-29-2013 at 01:47 PM.
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Old 04-29-2013, 02:54 PM   #9
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I don't think Prof. Strunk meant his book to be a complete guide to writing, but more a set of notes of some basics that one should know before going on to more advanced texts. If you don't know the rules then you can't very well break them properly after all.
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Old 04-29-2013, 10:20 PM   #10
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After reading a large number of self-published ebooks, I've come to the conclusion that there are a lot of people that could still benefit from exposure to S&W (including the author of the article).
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