Thursday, May 04, 2006

Style Summary 1 (So behind it's not even funny)

In the first chapter of Style, the author outlines and details his purposes for the book. His primary points are as follows:

1.) It is good to write clearly
2.) Anyone can write clearly

He relates to his reader a brief history of the universe . . I mean writing. Williams ties the origin of unclear writing in English to the origin of the English language itself. It seem that just after the dawn of time, two weeks after dinosaurs ceased to roam the earth, residents of England sought to establish the legitimacy of their language. In order to do this, they attempted to write it down, and emulated the style of Latin and French writings of the time, viewing the complexities of these documents as a measure of their advancement and legitimacy. Thus, complexity became associated with style.

This unfortunate condition persisted to the modern age, where such writers as Thomas paine, James Fenimore Cooper, and Mark Twain saw fit to comment on the needless complexities. At the present, the author accuses the fields of social science, medicine, law, and science of perpetuating this unfortunate state of affairs.

I found the proposed reasons for writings with crowded, unclear writing particularly fascinating: To impress, to fill space, because they think it's clever, because they are unsure of their subject, and, most importantly, ignorance of how others will read their writing.

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