Write in Style: A Guide to Good English

By Richard Palmer | Go to book overview

PREFACE

THE PLEASURE PRINCIPLE AND THE WORK ETHIC

We put our love where we have put our labour.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

When work is a pleasure, life is a joy. When work is a duty, life is slavery.

Maxim Gorky

Men seldom give pleasure when they are not pleased themselves.

Samuel Johnson

The Kingman Report into the learning and teaching of English was published in 1988. Reviewing it in a leading article *, The Guardian assumed as a proven fact that there are two extreme factions in the English teaching profession. One is characterized by a 'yearning for more learning by rote' and a 'return to traditional grammar lessons'; the other is distinguished by its 'belief that rules should not be taught but absorbed'.

The editorial went on mildly to berate Kingman for steering a timid course between those extremes. Yet it was itself remarkably indecisive. It scoffed at the notion of 'learning by osmosis', but was also certain that 'a return to traditional grammar lessons would not raise standards'. Not only did it fail to supply the answers it found absent in the Report: it seemed to accept that one must be 'for creativity' or 'for accuracy'-that the controlling emphasis must fall either on enjoyment and pleasurable absorption or on discipline and earned knowledge.

I found this puzzling then, and I continue to do so now. Surely it is not a question of either/or but of both/and?

It is doubly wrong to reject learning by osmosis on the one hand and direct grammatical training on the other. Both are essential; both can be made pleasurable and productive; each complements the other without being enough on its own.

It is incorrect to assume that no effective learning can be achieved by

* The Guardian, April 30, 1988, p. 18.

-xv-

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Write in Style: A Guide to Good English
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • From the Reviews: vi
  • Contents vii
  • List of Exercises xi
  • Acknowledgements xiv
  • Preface xv
  • Part One - Engage Brain and Ear Before Writing 1
  • 1 - Disasters 3
  • 2 - Triumphs 9
  • Part Two - Foundations 13
  • 3 - Introduction 15
  • 4 - Bone Structure 16
  • 5 - Joints 28
  • Part Three - Style 65
  • 6 - Introduction: Style Versus Fashion 67
  • 7 - Fight the Flab 70
  • 8 - Voice 109
  • Part Four - Tailor-Made 139
  • 9 - Introduction 141
  • 10 - Letters 142
  • 11 - Essays 161
  • 12 - Articles 189
  • 13 - Reviews 192
  • 14 - Reports 194
  • 15 - Minutes 199
  • 16 - PrÉcis and Summary 203
  • 17 - Reportage 225
  • Part Five - Grammar Primer 229
  • 18 - Grammar Primer 231
  • 19 - Inflections 274
  • 20 - Syntax 286
  • 21 - Parts of Speech (Advanced) 294
  • 22 - Punctuation in Speech and Quotation 315
  • 23 - Spelling and Confusibles 327
  • Appendix: Answers to Exercises 343
  • Further Reading 355
  • Authors, Sources and Named References 359
  • Subject Index 361
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