‘A grammar book by grammatical incompetents’

15 April 2009

April 16, 2009, marks the 50th anniversary of the publication of The Elements of Style, the landmark book by William Strunk and E.B. White.

In The Chronicle Review, Geoffrey K. Pullum, a professor of linguistics and English language at the University of Edinburgh, uses the occasion to stick a long, deep, and well honed knife into the “little book” that is loved and admired by anally-retentive, grammar conscious journalists.

The Elements of Style does not deserve the enormous esteem in which it is held by American college graduates. Its advice ranges from limp platitudes to inconsistent nonsense…. both authors were grammatical incompetents…

“Some of the recommendations are vapid, like “Be clear” (how could one disagree?). Some are tautologous, like “Do not explain too much.” (Explaining too much means explaining more than you should, so of course you shouldn’t.) Many are useless, like “Omit needless words.” (The students who know which words are needless don’t need the instruction.)”

Read the full article: 50 years of stupid grammar advice

Also read: The Elements of Style

Link via Nikhil Moro

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One Response to “‘A grammar book by grammatical incompetents’”

  1. Vidya Says:

    Nice to see this post here.I had made a note of the same article from Chronicle review in my blog yesterday. Looks like some thoughts do resonate but are unspoken till someone points it out.


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