Monday, October 01, 2007

A Recommendation, an Excerpt, and Some Musings on Language

Two books that all writers should have are The Elements of Style and The Copyeditor's Handbook. They present the rules of grammar and punctuation and language editing in the best way I've ever seen. (A big thanks goes to Dr. Snyder, the professor who introduced his copyediting classes to these precious volumes.)

Tonight I want to highlight an excerpt from Einsohn's Handbook (University of California Press, 2000.):

Despite what may have been drilled into you [. . .] in high school, all of the following taboos are routinely broken (even scoffed at) by well-respected writers and editors and by experts in contemporary American usage:

Never begin a sentence with and, but, or, also, or however.
Never end a sentence with a preposition.
Never split an infinitive.
Never use which to refer to an entire preceding clause.

But maybe I don't know what I'm talking about. Or perhaps my sole intention is to further addle your brain by breaking the rules, which would be a despicable betrayal of your trust. However, even if you should happen to feel betrayed, it is now time for us to confront the vexatious creatures one by one. (339)

Did I leave you wanting more??? She continues with explanations of subject-verb agreement, troublesome verbs, split infinitives, misplaced modifiers . . . The list goes on and on, and it's the kind of thing that gets me excited about writing. You might call me crazy for that, but it's when we really know and understand a language that we can use it to communicate exactly what we want, so there's no confusion in meaning. We can explore its depth and breadth to create poetry and rambling prose.

Ah, writing. I love writing. Why haven't I written on this here blog more often? :)

Thing I'm thankful for: Hardy laughs and late-night roommate chats.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Elements of Style is great! I'm tired of seeing people not appostrophe "s" the majority of names when showing posession. :)

11:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This post proves that Sara is one in 7 billion just like her Mom but in a different light. She likes books for Christmas--even when she was very young!

5:47 PM  

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