Were Strunk and White grammatical incompetents?

“The Elements of Style” is one of the most highly esteemed books ever written on the art of writing. But is that esteem well-founded?.

Not at all, according to Geoffrey K. Pullum, head of linguistics and English language at the University of Edinburgh.

In an article entitled “50 Years of Stupid Grammar Advice” he writes:

“The Elements of Style does not deserve the enormous esteem in which it is held by American college graduates. Its advice ranges from limp platitudes to inconsistent nonsense. Its enormous influence has not improved American students’ grasp of English grammar; it has significantly degraded it.”

Hogwash, you say, and point out that in the hallowed halls of writing excellence, “The Elements of Style” has long been considered a virtual blueprint for how to write properly.

All I can say is you should read the entire article.

It’s quite an eye-opener.

2 thoughts on “Were Strunk and White grammatical incompetents?”

  1. Thank you for posting this, Cecil. I feel vindicated in a way, because I could never get rid of the passive voice in my writing, and Strunk and White wrote that using the passive voice should be avoided like the plague.

    This article is such an eye-opener because I, like many others, have always known Strunk and White to be the grammar gurus.

    What puzzles me is why no one dealt with the grammar gurus’ grammatical incompetence much earlier. Well, at least now we know!

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