Dec 102014

The Sense of Style.
Steven Pinker.
Google Books

Not sure where this book was recommended to me but am thouroughly enjoying it.

Book Posts

  • Sense of Style by Steven Pinker

  • Book Info

    The Sense of Style: the Thinking Person's Guide to Writing in the 21st Century!
    by Steven Pinker
    Publisher: Viking
    Published: 09/30/2014
    ISBN-10: 0670025852
    ISBN-13: 978-0670025855
    Started: 12/05/2014
    Source: Mid-Columbia Library
    Format: Hardback

    Publisher Synopsis

    A short and entertaining book on the modern art of writing well by New York Times bestselling author Steven Pinker

    Why is so much writing so bad, and how can we make it better? Is the English language being corrupted by texting and social media? Do the kids today even care about good writing? Why should any of us care?

    In The Sense of Style, the bestselling linguist and cognitive scientist Steven Pinker answers these questions and more. Rethinking the usage guide for the twenty-first century, Pinker doesn’t carp about the decline of language or recycle pet peeves from the rulebooks of a century ago. Instead, he applies insights from the sciences of language and mind to the challenge of crafting clear, coherent, and stylish prose.

    In this short, cheerful, and eminently practical book, Pinker shows how writing depends on imagination, empathy, coherence, grammatical know-how, and an ability to savor and reverse engineer the good prose of others. He replaces dogma about usage with reason and evidence, allowing writers and editors to apply the guidelines judiciously, rather than robotically, being mindful of what they are designed to accomplish.

    Filled with examples of great and gruesome prose, Pinker shows us how the art of writing can be a form of pleasurable mastery and a fascinating intellectual topic in its own right.


    Author Info
    Steven Pinker is one of the world's leading authorities on language and the mind. His popular and highly praised books include The Stuff of Thought, The Blank Slate, Words and Rules, How the Mind Works, and The Language Instinct. The recipient of several major awards for his teaching, books, and scientific research, Pinker is Harvard College Professor and Johnstone Family Professor of Psychology at Harvard University. He also writes frequently for The New York Times, Time, The New Republic, and other magazines.

    Jun 072006

    As I was typing today at the office I once again wrote a sentence with the word alot, as in “He has alot of books”. I looked at it and knew it was wrong, and began to change it to allot, but hesitated. Which was right? I was about ready to call my dear wife (who would know) and then realized I could save myself the embarrassment (if she doesn’t read this post) by just searching on Google.

    I, of course, found out that neither was correct.

    1. Allot is a verb that means to distribute, to assign a portion, or to divide.
      Example: The instructor allotted me 20 minutes to take the test.
      Example: They allotted six square feet per family.

    2. Alot means nothing because it is not a word in the English language and therefore should not to be used.

    3. A lot (two words) is an informal phrase meaning a large portion or large quantity of something. According to what I read it is proper to use “a lot” when describing non-countable quantities such as water, sand, ice, or time. The word “many” should be used when describing countable items such as hours, people, or books. I doubt I will be able to change my usage, “He has many books” does not carry the same meaning to me as “He has a lot of books”.
      Example: A lot of water has passed under the bridge.
      Example: I don’t have a lot of time to make amends.

    Luckily I have a ‘search and replace’ plugin installed on this website and so was able to search for the two dozen occurrences of “allot” and “alot” on the various pages and replace them all with “a lot”. Now to see if I can put this in my mental rolodex of words I consistently misspell and must watch for.

    Here’s a link to a great video On English Spelling… Dumb & Dummer (sp) that shows how dumb English spelling can be.