It seems like the ongoing war over English grammar is no closer to a ceasefire. The latest battle is being fought over Strunk and White’s fifty year old Elements of Style, where Edinburgh University’s Geoffrey K. Pullum delivers a headshot to the oft recommended guide. In the linked article, Pullum points out the apparent contempt for grammar that the authors display in the book, incorrect or misleading entries and numerous examples of superfluous advice, for example “Don’t over explain.”
A link to this article was published on the blog Boingboing and seems to have ruffled the readers feathers. Among the apoplectic rage on both sides of the debate in the Boingboing comments section, was the fun guide below, which highlights the hypocrasy of style guides quite well:
- Verbs HAS to agree with their subjects.
- Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.
- And don’t start a sentence with a conjunction.
- It is wrong to ever split an infinitive.
- Avoid cliches like the plague. (They’re old hat)
- Also, always avoid annoying alliteration.
- Be more or less specific.
- Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are (usually) unnecessary.
- Also too, never, ever use repetitive redundancies.
- No sentence fragments.
- Contractions aren’t necessary and shouldn’t be used.
- Foreign words and phrases are not apropos.
- Do not be redundant; do not use more words than necessary; it’s highly superfluous.
- One should NEVER generalize.
- Comparisons are as bad as cliches.
- Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc.
- One-word sentences? Eliminate.
- Analogies in writing are like feathers on a snake.
- The passive voice is to be ignored.
- Eliminate commas, that are, not necessary. Parenthetical words however should be enclosed in commas.
- Never use a big word when a diminutive one would suffice.
- Use words correctly, irregardless of how others use them.
- Understatement is always the absolute best way to put forth earth-shaking ideas.
- Eliminate quotations. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.”
- If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times:
Resist hyperbole; not one writer in a million can use it correctly.
- Puns are for children, not groan readers.
- Go around the barn at high noon to avoid colloquialisms.
- Even IF a mixed metaphor sings, it should be derailed.
- Who needs rhetorical questions?
- Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.
- Proofread carefully to see if you any words out.
N.B. all errors on this blog are entirely provocational. Go!