Thursday, October 02, 2014

One of My Next Reads

I heard a fascinating piece on NPR's "Here and Now" earlier today*, which was this:

And here's the entire piece, as found at the link:

I'm an amateur language geek, especially when it comes to English, which is arguably the richest language in the modern world.   And why am I on about this here at EIP?  I think this book would be of interest to anyone who keeps a blog and is interested in perfecting... or perhaps improving... their writing.  I'm definitely in the "improving" camp.

The "Here and Now" conversation piqued my interest enough for me to chase that link to Amazon and download the book to my Kindle.  Here are some reviews of the book from Amazon:
Praise for The Sense of Style

“Forget Strunk and White’s rules—cognitive science is a surer basis for clear and cogent writing, according to this iconoclastic guide from bestselling Harvard psycholinguist Pinker... Every writer can profit from—and every writer can enjoy—Pinker’s analysis of the ways in which skillfully chosen words engage the mind.”
Publishers Weekly (starred)

“Yet another how-to book on writing? Indeed, but this is one of the best to come along in many years, a model of intelligent signposting and syntactical comportment…Pinker's vade mecum is a worthy addition to any writer’s library.”
Kirkus Reviews

“In this witty and practical book on the art of writing, Pinker applies insights from the sciences of language and mind to the crafting of clear, elegant prose: #requiredreading.”
Publishers Weekly, PW pick Fall 2014 Announcements

“Who better than a best-selling linguist and cognitive scientist to craft a style guide showing us how to use language more effectively?”
Library Journal

“[A] dense, fascinating analysis of the many ways communication can be stymied by word choice, placement, stress, and the like. [Pinker’s] explanations run rich and deep, complemented by lists, cartoons, charts on diagramming sentences, and more.”

“This book is a graceful and clear smackdown to the notion that English is going to the proverbial dogs. Pinker has written the Strunk & White for a new century while continuing to discourage baseless notions such as that the old slogan should have been ‘Winston tastes good AS a cigarette should.’”
—John McWhorter, author of Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue and The Power of Babel

“Great stuff! Only Steven Pinker could have written this marvelous book, and thank heaven he has. ‘Good writing can flip the way the world is perceived,’ he writes, and The Sense of Style will flip the way you think about good writing. Pinker’s curiosity and delight illuminate every page, and when he says style can make the world a better place, we believe him.”
 —Patricia T. O’Conner, author of Woe Is I and, with Stewart Kellerman, Origins of the Specious
I'll let you know what I think of the book after I'm done.  If I remember...

* I would have posted this around 1330 hrs today if my inter-tubes hadn't crashed and burned due to a cable cut.  We're back up as of 1745 hrs.


  1. I'm too old a dog to relearn English... sigh

    1. But you ARE a writer. And the book is entertaining as all get-out. Trust me.

  2. Buck, we have a hurdle to clear here. Most of us blog drunk.

    I give huge credit to the King of France for his headliner. I do take the time, each time, to watch her run. She defines style and grace beyond what writing in English can do She is the manifestation of joy.

    1. I give huge credit to the King of France for his headliner. I do take the time...

      OK, Curt... I thought long and hard about this and don't get it.

  3. zeugma: the use of a word to modify or govern two or more words when it is appropriate to only one of them or is appropriate to each but in a different way, as in "She arrived in tears and a sedan chair."

    1. Isn't "zeugma" such a cool word?

  4. Except for grammar and punctuation, I enjoy language.

    1. Heh. Yeah, the rules for English grammar and punctuation are among the most difficult things to learn in ANY language. Too many exceptions... and far too little cohesion.


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