- Taschenbuch: 226 Seiten
- Verlag: University of Chicago Press; Auflage: Reprint (13. Juli 1995)
- Sprache: Englisch
- ISBN-10: 0226899152
- ISBN-13: 978-0226899152
- Größe und/oder Gewicht: 14 x 1,5 x 21,6 cm
- Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 8 Kundenrezensionen
- Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 36.127 in Fremdsprachige Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Fremdsprachige Bücher)
- Komplettes Inhaltsverzeichnis ansehen
Style: Toward Clarity and Grace (Chicago Guides to Writing, Editing & Publishing) (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 13. Juli 1995
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"Telling me to 'Be clear,' " writes Joseph M. Williams in Style: Toward Clarity and Grace, "is like telling me to 'Hit the ball squarely.' I know that. What I don't know is how to do it." If you are ever going to know how to write clearly, it will be after reading Williams' book, which is a rigorous examination of--and lesson in--the elements of fine writing. With any luck, your clear writing will turn graceful, as well. Though most of us, says Williams, would be happy just to write "clear, coherent, and appropriately emphatic prose," he is not content to teach us just that. He also attempts, by way of example, to determine what constitutes elegant writing.
Despite the proliferation of books in this genre, rarely does one feel so confident in one's instructor. Williams is meticulous and exacting, yet never pedantic. Though he agrees with most of his grammarian colleagues that, generally speaking, the active voice is better than the passive or that the ordinary word is preferable to the fancy, Williams is also quick to assert that there's no sense learning a rule "if all we can do is obey it." And he is most emphatic about the absurdity of prescriptions concerning usage (such as, "Never begin a sentence with a coordinating conjunction"). Such rules, he says, "are 'violated' so consistently that, unless we are ready to indict for bad grammar just about every serious writer of modern English, we have to reject as misinformed anyone who would attempt to enforce them." --Jane Steinberg
Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende
Joseph M. Williams is professor of English and linguistics at the University of Chicago.
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Make no mistake! This is not beach reading, as Williams himself would tell you. Williams develops an entire system of writing over the course of the book, adding to it chapter by chapter. If you're not used to sustained intellectual effort, or if you have a short attention span, this book will definitely be a stretch. It requires prolonged concentration. But if you put forth the effort, it will be rewarded! I've read this book through at least eight times cover to cover, and while I'm not a great writer, I've improved immeasurably.
My compliments to Professor Williams - a great book!
This book takes a sort of linguistic, almost scientific approach to improving your writing style. I first learned of Williams' work in "The Language Instinct," by the Stephen Pinker, the acclaimed professor of linguistics from MIT.
Unlike every other writing book, this one is more than a laundry list of grammatical shoulds and shouldn'ts. This book is about HOW-- how to write to suit the human brain's innate method of processing information.
I am a professional writer, and I have a whole book case filled with grammar books. But this book is worth more than all the others combined. If you're a writer, this is the book you've been looking for.
Joseph Williams's Style: Toward Clarity and Grace is an exception. It is the only truly useful book on English prose style that I have ever found. Even Strunk and White cannot compete with the quality of the advice that Williams gives. Perhaps more important, the advice that Williams gives can be used. As Williams puts it, his aim is to go "beyond platitudes." Advice like "'Be clear' is like telling me to 'Hit the ball squarely.' I know that. What I don't know is how to do it." Williams tells us how to do it.
Williams's advice is particularly useful because it is reader based. Most books on style are rule-based: follow these rules and you will be a good writer. Williams recognizes that clear writing is writing that makes the reader feel clear about what he or she is reading. This difference in orientation makes Williams's advice much more profound: he has a theory of why the rules are what they are (and what to do when the rules conflict) that books that focus on rules alone lack.
His advice starts at the level of the sentence. Williams believes that readers find sentences easy to read and understand when the logic of the thought follows the logic of the sentence: the subjects of sentences should be the actors, and the verbs of the sentence should be the crucial actions. The beginning of a sentence should look back and connect the reader with the ideas that have been mentioned before. The end of the sentence should look forward, and is the place to put new ideas and new information.
His advice continues at the level of the paragraph. The sentences that make up a paragraph should have consistent topics. New topics and new themes should be found at the end of a paragraph's introductory sentence (or sentences). Readers will find a paragraph to be coherent if it has one single articulate summary sentence, which is almost always found either at the end of the paragraph or as the last of the paragraph's introductory sentences.
His advice concludes with four chapters on being concise, on figuring out the appropriate length, on being elegant, and on using constructions that do not jar the reader. I think that these last four chapters are less successful than the other chapters of the book. They contain much sound advice. But the argument of the book becomes more diffuse. The first six chapters present and illustrate overarching organizing principles for achieving clarity, coherence, and cohesion. The last four chapters present long lists of things to try to do. (However, the fangs-bared attack on "pop grammarians" found in the last chapter is fun to read.)
So, gentle reader, if you want to become a better writer of English, go buy and work through this book. I, at least, have never found a better.
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