Tuesday, December 12, 2006

This sounds like good advice ...

... Omit Needless Books of Advice on Writing. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

It's easy - and seems to have become fashionable - to make fun of Strunk & White. But the best comment I know about the book is a fairly old one - Robertson Davies's (note my punctuation) observation that S&W enables one to build the prose equivalent of a good sound chicken coop, but that many of us want to build something more elaborate. Still, knowing how to build a good sound chicken coop is a good start if you want to build things. You just don't have to stop there. (And, speaking as an editor, it is amazing how often one finds needless words that must be omitted.)
Update: Dave further sends along this: "...rules given by Professor Quirk and his colleagues in their A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language. 'One may pronounce Mr Jones' car as Jones or Joanzez: where a name ends in a letter s sounding like a z (i.e. a voiced s), an apostrophe only should be used; where a name ends in a written s sounding like an s (i.e. it is not voiced), an apostrophe s is required. Hence Mr Jones' book is great, but Mr Davis's book is even better.' (From

1 comment:

  1. Rather like art, I think - I always like to see strong evidence of the mastery of craftmanship before a begin to appreciate the innovative.