Why Academic Writing Stinks, by Steven Pinker
The curse of knowledge is a major reason that good scholars write bad prose. It simply doesn’t occur to them that their readers don’t know what they know—that those readers haven’t mastered the patois or can’t divine the missing steps that seem too obvious to mention or have no way to visualize an event that to the writer is as clear as day. And so they don’t bother to explain the jargon or spell out the logic or supply the necessary detail. Obviously, scholars cannot avoid technical terms altogether. But a surprising amount of jargon can simply be banished, and no one will be the worse for it.Pinker's new book, a style guide, The Sense of the Style, has ten grammar rules it's OK to break (sometimes). He talks to Edge on Writing in the 21st Century, which includes the occasional fMRI.
Six years ago, New Dorp High School on Staten Island, NY, had a 40% dropout rate, and more than 80% of freshmen were reading below grade level. In spring 2013, the school expects an 80% graduation rate. What happened? New Dorp decided to teach its students how to write. [more inside]
"Who knew people were so interested in commas?" Ben Yagoda has written three NYT pieces on correct comma usage: Fanfare for the Comma Man, The Most Comma Mistakes, and Some Comma Questions.
Explicit writings you should not read at work or anywhere else you can could into trouble for reading extremely explicit blog posts
Who killed the semicolon? Paul Collins fingers a 19th-century culprit; Trevor Butterworth finds an American anitipathy to this troublesome punctuation mark. [previously] [via]
The Grammar Curmudgeon makes up for all of those snarky grammar comments we refrain from posting.
A Grammar Test - How is your grammar? Are you proficient with the English language? Here is a little test of 34 questions to help you check yourself. Or, perhaps grammar doesn't trip your trigger. You may want to try the Punctuation and Capitalization test.
Punk-Tuation: Is It The New Anarchy Or Boring Old Fascism All Over Again? How
anal serious about apostrophes are you? Just how far would you go for a perfect semi-colon? Do you regularly reach for heart pills before you read MetaFilter? Take comfort in this: Lynne Trusse's wildly popular Eats Shoots And Leaves is this year's surprise bestseller in Britain. And I've limited myself to the MeFi-adored Guardian, just to make my (as it were) point. So... how important is punctuation to you? My own suspicion is that punctuation is the new spelling. It is important. (And, lest this seem carefree and frivolous, let me confess right away that MetaFilter may well be the worst offender, in this regard, ever to have blessedly existed.)
"Even a brilliant piece of writing will have difficulty finding a publisher if the author has neglected to dress his manuscript decently." 'The Chicago Manual of Style' enters the 21st century. Calling all MeFi Schoolmarms! (Also: CSM New Questions & Answers)
"I was very lucky that she triped over my uncontios body beried under piles of ash..." A saga of epic proportions: some moron living inside his "Morrowind" RPG computer game writes his gameplay out as a novel. Welcome to a capsule indictment of American education and the consequences of the new "American Way." Thank heavens we don't live in Morrowind, where most people can't "right nor reed."
yo d00dz! hav u seen tihs? "Two-thirds of the 18-24 year olds questioned do not worry about punctuation, grammar or style when writing messages. About 16% sign every e-mail with love and kisses, even when addressing their boss."
l8s, love wrighty XX
l8s, love wrighty XX