Has social media and texting compromised the English language? Is good writing a thing of bygone days? Does anyone even care about the basics of correct grammar or know how to structure a proper sentence? Some of us – particularly in fields involving the written word – often wonder if good writing still counts for anything in our modern world.
Harvard’s Johnstone psychology professor, one of Foreign Policy Magazine’s Top 100 Intellectuals, and author Steven Pinker believes there is hope in his eloquently penned book, The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century (Viking, 2014), which offers some sublime advice and inspiration on transforming bad (and even mediocre) writing into brilliant prose.
English can be a confusing language, but The Sense of Style explains it is more about how we express ourselves than the basic rules we were taught during our formative school years. We can be perceived by others by how we speak and write, and while occasionally breaking a “rule” can be (albeit barely) acceptable, one cannot be lazy and careless when it comes to properly speaking and writing.
However, The Sense of Style’s contents are far from a run-of-the-mill manual for writers, editors, and English majors; it’s written from a scientific view of turning ideas into prose with remarkable clarity. This is a handbook of sorts that everyone should keep on their shelves as a constant reference…and leave “textspeak” to text messaging.