Publishing Partner: Cambridge University Press CUP Extra Wiley-Blackwell Publisher Login
amazon logo
More Info


New from Oxford University Press!

ad

The Social Origins of Language

By Daniel Dor

Presents a new theoretical framework for the origins of human language and sets key issues in language evolution in their wider context within biological and cultural evolution


New from Cambridge University Press!

ad

Preposition Placement in English: A Usage-Based Approach

By Thomas Hoffmann

This is the first study that empirically investigates preposition placement across all clause types. The study compares first-language (British English) and second-language (Kenyan English) data and will therefore appeal to readers interested in world Englishes. Over 100 authentic corpus examples are discussed in the text, which will appeal to those who want to see 'real data'


New from Brill!

ad

Free Access 4 You

Free access to several Brill linguistics journals, such as Journal of Jewish Languages, Language Dynamics and Change, and Brill’s Annual of Afroasiatic Languages and Linguistics.


Academic Paper


Title: The Land of the Free and The Elements of Style
Author: Geoffrey K Pullum
Email: click here to access email
Homepage: http://www.lel.ed.ac.uk/~gpullum/
Institution: University of Edinburgh
Linguistic Field: Applied Linguistics
Abstract: 'The Elements of Style' (henceforth, 'Elements') is a slender book of advice on usage and writing, revised by the admired novelist and essayist E. B. White from a book by his former English professor. White did well to accept Macmillan's suggestion that he should revise and expand his former professor's book for commercial republication: successive editions of the revision sold over ten million copies. Many college-educated Americans revere 'Elements', swear by it, carry it around with them. It was reissued in in April 2009 to a chorus of approval from famous American literary figures. One fan has published a whole book about its history (Garvey, 2009).
The title of 'Elements' suggests a focus on style, but in fact much of it concerns grammar. The final chapter, ‘An Approach to Style’, opens by characterizing the earlier parts of the book as ‘concerned with what is correct, or acceptable, in the use of English’, and not with ‘style in its broader meaning’; and indeed, 'Elements' is frequently cited as an authority on questions of grammar.
I believe the success of 'Elements' to be one of the worst things to have happened to English language education in America in the past century. The book's style advice, largely vapid and obvious (‘Do not overwrite’; ‘Be clear’), may do little damage; but the numerous statements about grammatical correctness are actually harmful. They are riddled with inaccuracies, uninformed by evidence, and marred by bungled analysis. 'Elements' is a dogmatic bookful of bad usage advice, and the people who rely on it have no idea how badly off-beam its grammatical claims are. In this essay I provide some illustrations, and a review of some of the book's most striking faults.

CUP at LINGUIST

This article appears in English Today Vol. 26, Issue 2, which you can read on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .



Back
Add a new paper
Return to Academic Papers main page
Return to Directory of Linguists main page