19 November 2008

Get your opinion injections here

An exchange of e-mails with Deniz yesterday was concerning the relevancy of the classic The Elements of Style to our times. Strunk’s 1918 original is available here; my paperback copy is a 1979 Strunk & White edition.

One advice that sounds quite irrelevant in this age of blogging is "Do not inject opinion" (No. 17 in Chapter V of the 1979 edition). But blogging is all about injecting opinions! If you don’t like the opinions I inject into your mind, you may counter-inject your opinions by posting a comment (and if I don't like them, I'll delete them!).

Deniz wrote:

Imagine if they could see the blogosphere now!
Let me be fair, though, for the advice of Strunk & White wasn’t totally pointless. They were mostly concerned with the kind of opinions "scattered indiscriminately", those presented where none is necessary. Their example makes perfect sense:
If you have received a letter inviting you to speak at the dedication of a new cat hospital, and you hate cats, your reply, declining the invitation, does not necessarily have to cover the full range of your emotions. You must make it clear that you will not attend, but you do not have to let fly at cats.
Of course, most of what’s in Strunk & White is still good and useful. When I am trying to decide whether to use that or which, for example, I follow their advice in Chapter IV; when I am revising a manuscript, I try to omit as many needless words as possible as they recommend in section 17 of Chapter II.

Yet, I blog, therefore I inject opinions.

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