Friday, 22 April 2016

Review: The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person's Guide to Writing in the 21st Century

The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person's Guide to Writing in the 21st Century The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person's Guide to Writing in the 21st Century by Steven Pinker
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

What makes writing good? Is is a pedantic knowledge of of all the rules and having perfect grammar and punctuation or understanding those rules and knowing when to bend them? Writing well is not an easy task, ask any author who has a deadline, as it demands consistency and coherence. In this book the linguist Steve Pinker brings us the latest scientific understanding about what makes our language great.

The book is full of examples of how to write well, as well as illustrations of how not to do it. His wit and humour underlies all that he writes, as he outlines best practice, and then mentions that he disobeyed the rules in the paragraph before and did you notice? He has selected a number of cartoons to illustrate his points and has a series of anecdotes to reinforce the points that he is making, the most amusing of which was where an academic had written a critic of Eats Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss, pointing out all her grammatical errors; he then had another author write an article highlighting the errors he had made. It could have gone on forever…

Overall it was worth reading. It is written from an American linguistic perspective, but he does acknowledge the subtle differences between their language and ours. The English language is an immense too that has layers and layers of complexity and subtlety, and this goes so way to give modern writers a framework.

One to dip into again I think.

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