This week is the 50th anniversary of a text many of know and love or know and love to hate: The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr., and E.B. White, often just known as “Strunk & White.”
In “50 Years of Stupid Grammar Advice,” Geoffrey K. Pullum writes,
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. Its enormous influence has not improved American students’ grasp of English grammar; it has significantly degraded it.
In “Clever Horses: Unhelpful Advice from ‘Elements of Style’,” Jan Freeman writes,
The least we can do is to teach college students the current language prejudices, not the ones their great-grandparents nurtured. It would be simple to modernize this part of “Elements”; both the publishers who neglect it and the teachers who accept it without protest are helping to promote mediocrity.
Whew, some tough reviews for such a tiny book. I’d be interested to hear what other folks think of The Elements of Style. Are you hoping the book will fade into obscurity or looking forward to another 50 of keepin’ it real with Strunk & White?
Hat tip to One Good Move.