You Got Style
· Pointed Takes on Style Delineated ·
April 23, 2005
· English Style's Logical Character — William Shakespeare ·
Take my "comp students," adding as well my "I," "they," "Joseph M. Williams," "he," "readers," and "all skilled writers." They are all characters — and if you're like my noon class, you're already good at spotting them.
Last week we divvied them up into two helpful types, called the "rhetorical" and the "logical." The first — the words "I," "You," "One," and "We" — are those "topic-independent personal pronouns rhetorically governing reader-writer relations." They let us be as formal or informal, familiar or distant, as we might wish, serving typically to keep readers in tow.
By contrast, personal nouns come next, naming only those folks we might logically associate with whatever subject we're exploring. But my students ran into trouble Friday. We were all brain-storming their kinds — singular and plural, common and proper — when to my surprise, asked to name the most famous of our writers, they stumbled. Consider:
If you've also forgotten this, I have a memorable quote just for the occasion:
And so goes my English teaching today.Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
April 15, 2005
· Historical Drudge Report — Samuel Johnson's 1755 Dictionary ·
So did Samuel Johnson after eight years of hard work mark himself aptly in his great Dictionary published on April 15, 1755. Though its appearance came late by six years, what's the difference, especially for those given to lasting work? For when it's done well, work can bring official or even officious credit-takers to account. Consider Johnson's way with Philip Stanhope (Lord Chesterfield):
You've got to admit, Johnson had style (Grub-Street honesty, I'd call it). But he was also attentive to what it takes to work truly in others' debt. Consider how he wrote of John Milton's Paradise Lost, considering that Johnson's dictionary was not our first:
Of such work, one sees no private or personal account taken just for itself, however much one sees the real measure of its judicious certainty. Maybe it's for this reason that Adam Kirsch, by chance writing in Slate in 2003, happily concluded with this thought:
*"I am not so lost in lexicography," Johnson also wrote, "as to forget that words are the daughters of earth, and that things are the sons of heaven."Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)
April 4, 2005
· My 1982 Richard Mitchell Interview ·
My interview, included in its entirety, was part of a larger project called "A Penny for Your Thoughts: Dialogues on Literacy." Mitchell's remains the deepest of the twenty-plus I did that summer. I'm glad it has now found its proper home at Alexander's fine site.
Except for the last, the section titles are Alexander's:
Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Copyright © 2007 YouGotStyle.org
Unless otherwise stated, all original materials of whatever kind included in these pages, including weblog archives, are licensed under a Creative Commons License.
English Style's Logical Character — William Shakespeare
Historical Drudge Report — Samuel Johnson's 1755 Dictionary
My 1982 Richard Mitchell Interview
Figures & Tropes
Grammar & Syntax