Wednesday, May 6, 2009

In Defense of Strunk and White

I was going to let the fiftieth anniversary of Strunk and White's The Elements of Style slip by without comment, but then I stumbled on this article by Mark Garvey. As much as I enjoy Language Log's embrace of the complexity of English, I'm happy to see someone call Geoffrey Pullman on his disproportionate hatred of this slim writing handbook.

I have not used Elements of Style in a long time--my dip into the editing arena made me a Chicago Manual of Style girl (another book Language Log doesn't love)--but I still keep a copy on my shelf. I know there are better books on English grammar available. But for nervous writers just dipping a toe into the murky waters of English usage, there are very few volumes as concise, affordable, and (most importantly) non-scary as Elements of Style.

(Image from Better Know a Book.)


  1. Agreed! I still do occasionally look up something in my EoS ... as a non-English-major, I find it's a great resource for those little details I never learned, or else forgot in the twenty-some years since high-school English!

  2. Your writing is so intelligent it scares me. Remember how Traie Ward used to make us feel inferior because of his math skills? Yeah that, only it's you, with words.


  3. Both these comments made me all warm, tingly inside. :-)