Synopses & Reviews
A short and entertaining book on the modern art of writing well by New York Times bestselling author Steven Pinker
Why is so much writing so bad, and how can we make it better? Is the English language being corrupted by texting and social media? Do the kids today even care about good writing? Why should any of us care?
In The Sense of Style, the bestselling linguist and cognitive scientist Steven Pinker answers these questions and more. Rethinking the usage guide for the twenty-first century, Pinker doesnand#8217;t carp about the decline of language or recycle pet peeves from the rulebooks of a century ago. Instead, he applies insights from the sciences of language and mind to the challenge of crafting clear, coherent, and stylish prose.
In this short, cheerful, and eminently practical book, Pinker shows how writing depends on imagination, empathy, coherence, grammatical knowhow, and an ability to savor and reverse engineer the good prose of others. He replaces dogma about usage with reason and evidence, allowing writers and editors to apply the guidelines judiciously, rather than robotically, being mindful of what they are designed to accomplish.
Filled with examples of great and gruesome prose, Pinker shows us how the art of writing can be a form of pleasurable mastery and a fascinating intellectual topic in its own right.
"While the volume is certainly handy to someone struggling with grammar basics...the "Verbal Abuse" section will appeal to language experts and purists." Booklist
"Lighthearted and funny...It's like Strunk and White combined with S.J. Perelman." New York Times Book Review
Praise for The Sense of Style
and#8220;[The Sense of Style] is more contemporary and comprehensive than and#8220;The Elements of Style,and#8221; illustrated with comic strips and cartoons and lots of examples of comically bad writing. [Pinkerand#8217;s] voice is calm, reasonable, benign, and you can easily see why heand#8217;s one of Harvardand#8217;s most popular lecturers.and#8221;
and#8212;The New York Times
and#8220;Pinker's linguistical learningand#8230;is considerable. His knowledge of grammar is extensive and runs deep. He also takes a scarcely hidden delight in exploding tradition. He describes his own temperament as "both logical and rebellious." Few things give him more pleasure than popping the buttons off what he takes to be stuffed shirts.and#8221;
and#8212;The Wall Street Journal
and#8220;[W]hileand#160;The Sense of Styleand#160;is very much a practical guide to clear and compelling writing, itand#8217;s also far moreand#8230;. In the end, Pinkerand#8217;s formula for good writing is pretty basic: write clearly, try to follow the rules most of the timeand#8212;but only the when they make sense. Itand#8217;s neither rocket science nor brain surgery. But the wit and insight and clarity he brings to that simple formula is what makes this book such a gem.and#8221;
and#8220;Erudite and wittyand#8230; With its wealth of helpful information and its accessible approach, The Sense of Style is a worthy addition to even the most overburdened shelf of style manuals.and#8221;
and#8220;Forget Strunk and Whiteand#8217;s rulesand#8212;cognitive science is a surer basis for clear and cogent writing, according to this iconoclastic guide from bestselling Harvard psycholinguist Pinker... Every writer can profit fromand#8212;and every writer can enjoyand#8212;Pinkerand#8217;s analysis of the ways in which skillfully chosen words engage the mind.and#8221;
and#8212;Publishers Weekly (starred)
and#8220;Yet another how-to book on writing? Indeed, but this is one of the best to come along in many years, a model of intelligent signposting and syntactical comportmentand#8230;Pinker's vade mecum is a worthy addition to any writerand#8217;s library.and#8221;
and#8220;In this witty and practical book on the art of writing, Pinker applies insights from the sciences of language and mind to the crafting of clear, elegant prose: #requiredreading.and#8221;
and#8212;Publishers Weekly, PW pick Fall 2014 Announcements
and#8220;Who better than a best-selling linguist and cognitive scientist to craft a style guide showing us how to use language more effectively?and#8221;
and#8220;[A] dense, fascinating analysis of the many ways communication can be stymied by word choice, placement, stress, and the like. [Pinkerand#8217;s] explanations run rich and deep, complemented by lists, cartoons, charts on diagramming sentences, and more.and#8221;
and#8220;This book is a graceful and clear smackdown to the notion that English is going to the proverbial dogs. Pinker has written the Strunk and White for a new century while continuing to discourage baseless notions such as that the old slogan should have been and#8216;Winston tastes good AS a cigarette should.and#8217;and#8221;
and#8212;John McWhorter, author of Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue and The Power of Babel
and#8220;Great stuff! Only Steven Pinker could have written this marvelous book, and thank heaven he has. and#8216;Good writing can flip the way the world is perceived,and#8217; he writes, and The Sense of Style will flip the way you think about good writing. Pinkerand#8217;s curiosity and delight illuminate every page, and when he says style can make the world a better place, we believe him.and#8221;
and#160;and#8212;Patricia T. Oand#8217;Conner, author of Woe Is I and, with Stewart Kellerman, Origins of the Specious
and#160; and#160;Praise for The Better Angels of Our Nature
"A supremely important book...a masterly achievement."
and#8212;The New York Times Book Review
and#8212;The Wall Street Journal
"One of the most important books I've read--not just this year, but ever."
Praise for The Stuff of Thought
"Packed with information...Clear, witty, attractively written."
and#8212;The New York Review of Books
"A display of fiercely intricate intelligence."
and#8212;The Times (London)
"Engaging and provocative . . . It's good to have a mind as lively and limpid as his bringing the ideas of cognitive science to the public."
and#8212;Douglas Hofstadter, Los Angeles Times
"Curious, inventive, fearless, naughty."
and#8212;The New York Times
and#160; Praise for The Blank Slate
and#160; "Sweeping, erudite, sharply argued, and fun to read . . . also highly persuasive."
"Ought to be read by anybody who . . . thinks they already know where they stand on the science wars. . . . It could change their minds."
"Pinker is a star, and the world of science is lucky to have him." and#8212;Richard Dawkins
The witty, bestselling grammar book that taught a nation better English is revised, updated, and expanded for the new millennium, with fresh dos and don'ts in every chapter. Plus a word to the wired--a whole new chapter on language in the age of e-mail.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 231-232) and index.
The witty, bestselling grammar book that proved English could be fun is now revised, updated, and expanded. There are fresh dos and don'ts throughout, plus a whole new chapter on the ins and outs of e-mail. Woe Is I
is a delightfully down-to-earth field guide for anyone who wants to communicate more clearly, in the real world or the virtual one. Help is here, in eleven
- Woe Is I: Therapy for Pronoun Anxiety
- Plurals Before Swine: Blunders with Numbers
- Yours Truly: The Possessives and the Possessed
- They Beg to Disagree: Putting Verbs in Their Place
- Verbal Abuse: Words on the Endangered List
- Comma Sutra: The Joy of Punctuation
- The Compleat Dangler: A Fish out of Water
- Death Sentence: Do Clichés Deserve to Die?
- The Living Dead: Let Bygone Rules Be Gone
- Saying Is Believing: How to Write What You Mean
- E-Mail Intuition: Does Anything Go?
The witty, bestselling grammar book that taught a nation better English is revised, updated, and e x p a n d e d for the new millennium, with fresh dos and don'ts in every chapter. Plus a word to the wired-a whole new chapter on language in the age of e-mail.
Unlike, say, Latin, English is a living language-and, like all living things, it grows, it changes, and it can be messy and confusing. And now Woe Is I has grown and changed too. Here's the latest and greatest on the basics and subtleties of the language from America's beloved grammar guru Patricia T. O'Conner. She's renovated her classic, using plain English to un-tangle the knottiest of problems, skipping the kind of jargon that tempted you to cut your high school English class. Run, don't walk, to your local bookstore.
In this new edition of Woe Is I, Patricia T. O’Conner unties the knottiest grammar tangles and displays the same lively humor that has charmed and enlightened grateful readers for years. With new chapters on spelling and punctuation, and fresh insights into the rights, wrongs, and maybes of English grammar and usage, Woe Is I offers down-to-earth explanations and plain-English solutions to the language mysteries that bedevil all of us:
- Avoid the persistent (and persistently embarrassing) grammatical errors that bewilder the best and the brightest
- Pronounce and spell words that even the smartest people mangle
- Correctly use hundreds of woefully abused words and phrases
About the Author
Steven Pinker is the Harvard College Professor of Psychology at Harvard University. A two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist and the winner of many awards for his research, teaching, and books, he has been named one of Time's 100 Most Influential People in the World Today and Foreign Policy's 100 Global Thinkers.