April 16, 2009, was the 50th anniversary of the publication of The Elements of Style, that compact guide to grammar and style credited to William Strunk Jr. and the great American essayist E.B. White.
According to some linguists, this was not White’s best effort, and the book’s impact on young students is lamentable. I say, no harm done.
For a brief history of how The Elements of Style came to be published — and why it does not deserve the multi-generational loyalty it receives, read the following contrarian (and entertaining) view by linguist Geoffrey K. Pullum: 50 Years of Stupid Grammar Advice.
An article by Sam Roberts of the New York Times, ‘The Elements of Style’ Turns 50, offers a much more balanced view of the Strunk and White phenom.
Read the original review of the 1959 publication in the New York Times, though, and you’ll see that professional writers have been disagreeing over Strunk and White’s advice from the get-go.
Arguing over grammar never goes out of style.
May 25 2009 10:25 pm | General