Author Topic: Debunking Strunk and White  (Read 8380 times)

Joe Carillo

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Debunking Strunk and White
« on: April 13, 2009, 11:44:32 AM »
This page features notable advocacies in English grammar and usage as well as dissenting voices or controversies about the language. Various viewpoints will be presented here to enable users and learners of English to have a deeper understanding and appreciation of its finer points and its changing or still unsettled aspects.

For starters, I am presenting a very recent voice of dissent—and a very strong one at that!—against some of the grammar prescriptions of The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E. B. White. As many of us know, this slim, venerable volume has been the grammar bible of thousands of English users and learners since its publication in 1918, making it one of the 100 best-selling nonfiction books of all time.

The dissenting voice is that of Geoffrey K. Pullum, head of linguistics and English language at the University of Edinburgh and co-author (with Rodney Huddleston) of The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language (Cambridge University Press, 2002). In an article entitled “50 Years of Stupid Grammar Advice” in the April 17, 2009 issue of The Chronicle Review, Prof. Pullum debunks The Elements of Style on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of its publication last April 16, 2009.

The Elements of Style, Prof. Pullum says, “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.”

For the full text of Prof. Pullum’s article, click this link to “50 Years of Stupid Grammar Advice.”

I am also providing this link to the full text with illustrations of Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style, and this link to the full text of The Elements of Style as originally written by Strunk in 1918.

I hope you’d find this clash of views about English grammar and usage both enlightening and entertaining!

Joe Carillo
« Last Edit: May 01, 2009, 06:05:49 AM by Joe Carillo »