"Unless there is a good reason for its being their, do not inject opinion into a piece of writing... To air one's views gratuitously, however, is to imply that the demand for them is brisk."
Some of the arguments in the Pullum article take Strunk and White out of context. For example, he picks on "Do not inject opinion," but doesn't include Strunk and White's explanation:"Unless there is a good reason for its being their, do not inject opinion into a piece of writing... To air one's views gratuitously, however, is to imply that the demand for them is brisk."I think that's a pretty good point.
"Write with nouns and verbs, not with adjectives and adverbs," they insist. (The motivation of this mysterious decree remains unclear to me.)
And then, in the very next sentence, comes a negative passive clause containing three adjectives: "The adjective hasn't been built that can pull a weak or inaccurate noun out of a tight place."
That's actually not just three strikes, it's four, because in addition to contravening "positive form" and "active voice" and "nouns and verbs," it has a relative clause ("that can pull") removed from what it belongs with (the adjective), which violates another edict: "Keep related words together."
'The Stamp Act had been passed to raise taxes on the colonists.' WHO passed the Stamp Act? If the writer can't remember or be bothered to state the entity who performed the action, they probably don't actually understand the significance of the fact they're regurgitating.
I gave all my students a link to Strunk and White because none of them had any clue how to write basic English sentences. If they actually understood how to write I would not have had to do that. A tool that isn't perfect is better than no tool at all.
Much of the ire towards Strunk & White is based on the idea that S&W serves to strangle genius in its infancy and force those trying to push the limits of language into a straitjacket.
A Chekhov character is ... an object of external influence rather than a subject, and his residual humanity consists in responding to the outside pressures with his mind and heart. This is attested to by Chekhov's language. Significantly enough, one often encounters in his works passive, third-person constructions such as "it appeared to him," "it occurred to him," and the like, instead of sentences in which a human being plays an active role, in which he or she thinks, recalls, desires, and so on.
Anywho...I'm all for amending rule when necessary to reflect evolving usage and construction. Afterall, language is a living thing. However, this is not the same as tossing-out rules altogether. I understand there is this odd, vocal contingent who appear to be of the mind that there should be no rules whatsoever, save for the ones that they find personally convenient. Sorry, kids. You don't get to pretend speed limits don't pertain to you, either, just because they were established without your input.
3) Being patient. First year students who can't communicate in writing as well as you want them to aren't going to change a heck of a lot within one semester, but if they are writing a lot and sharing their work with their peers a lot over the course of their 4 or so years, the growth is going to be substantial IMHO.
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