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Dec
20
awarded  Nice Answer
Dec
17
comment What’s purportedly wrong with Strunk & White’s “The Elements of Style”?
@Araucaria Do you mean that statistically, or in terms of logical implication (with a for-all/there-exists quantifier)? To decide the truth of the statement we'd need to take typical student essays, flip all active to passive and vice-versa, and compare results. My impression is that Strunk indeed found it a problem that on the whole students were using the passive where active would be better: if we have an epidemic of students using the active where the passive would better, I look forward to a book with a section titled "Use the passive voice" (and softening/qualifying that advice inside).
Dec
16
comment What’s purportedly wrong with Strunk & White’s “The Elements of Style”?
@Araucaria Nevertheless, the main point is that the student must give thought to how to make her writing more direct and vigorous, and trying out the active voice is the most straightforward trick that can nudge her along that direction; that's why that's the title of the section. It's the same with many of the (only) 18 sections: e.g. #12 is about being "definite" and "strong" (including using "never"), yet it's titled "Put statements in positive form", #13 is about being concise (including by reordering thoughts rather than dropping words) yet it's titled "Omit needless words", etc.
Dec
16
comment What’s purportedly wrong with Strunk & White’s “The Elements of Style”?
@Araucaria (contd.) Moreover, you treat the reader as an idiot, instead of one who'll use the examples to determine what conclusions she draws from each section. And you're comparing it to a grammar textbook, instead of comparing it to books like Steven Pinker's A Sense of Style (which I'm currently reading) or Ben Yagoda's The Sound on the Page or Zinsser's On Writing Well (neither of which I've read). About the specific example: the contrast b/w "There were a great number…" and "Dead leaves covered the ground." is what's important, that it's from active voice is actually secondary!
Dec
16
comment What’s purportedly wrong with Strunk & White’s “The Elements of Style”?
@Araucaria Yes, I find the analysis unfair, especially its fundamental assumptions. Even without going into the details of your analysis, the problem is this: I see the book as being one guy's idiosyncratic preferences about what he likes to see in his students' essays, and mainly driven by examples, with the surrounding fluff being of secondary importance. (And think such a book is a a perfectly fine thing to write.) You are judging it like a grammar textbook, and evaluating whether the examples indeed correspond to what the surrounding fluff talks about. (contd.)
Dec
16
comment What’s purportedly wrong with Strunk & White’s “The Elements of Style”?
@Araucaria What exactly do you want my thoughts on? :-)
Dec
15
comment What’s purportedly wrong with Strunk & White’s “The Elements of Style”?
The titles are fine. They are organised by stylistic effect, not grammatical category. Incidentally modern books on style have the same organisation; I can show you an example tomorrow.
Dec
15
comment What’s purportedly wrong with Strunk & White’s “The Elements of Style”?
The topic of that section is making sentences "more direct and vigorous" (which is generally useful advice). A big part of doing so is choosing the active voice (which is probably why that is chosen as the title of the section); another part is using "substituting a transitive in the active voice for some such perfunctory expression as there is…" (even if the latter is still active voice). Never have I read the later examples as changing from passive voice to active voice; it is Pullum (and others who compare it with a grammar book) who are introducing that impression.
Dec
14
awarded  Good Answer
Dec
9
comment What’s purportedly wrong with Strunk & White’s “The Elements of Style”?
@Araucaria “Anything I write is ok, because I am writing "style advice" not grammar.” I agree with you :)
Dec
9
comment How many spaces should come after a period/full stop?
@cp.engr Yes that's a good post. I've long (as in, for years) been meaning to write another answer to this question. William Morris is part of the answer, as is english.stackexchange.com/questions/3602/…
Oct
1
comment What is the plural form of “status”?
@Henry What is the meaning of your comment?
Sep
17
awarded  Guru
Aug
31
comment What is the plural form of “status”?
@Henry "radius" does end in "-ius". What I said was: plural words end in -ii only when their singular words end in -ius (rather than merely -us).
Aug
25
awarded  Notable Question
Aug
5
awarded  Yearling
Jul
30
reviewed Approve Do “carat” and “karat” have the same origin?
Jul
24
comment What’s the rule for using “who” and “whom” correctly?
@JeffLockhart: Your latter comment is correct and the former wrong: "many of whom" is what follows from the rules mentioned in these answers. You'd say "many of them", not "many of they", and similarly you'd say "many of us", not "many of we". Similarly, "many of whom", not "many of who", is the traditionally correct answer. (But as always, when in doubt use "who".)
Jul
20
awarded  Guru
Jul
14
comment Is “certainly possible” an oxymoron?
@deadrat What confused me when reading your answer is that you're using "modifies" in the grammatical sense, but it is easy to read it in the common-language sense of "changes". If you say "certainly possible" instead of "possible", you are not changing (modifying) the possibility, what you are changing is your certainty about the possibility.