Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The pompous style in Nancy

[Nancy , April 18, 1966. Via Random Acts of Nancy .]

He must be an Honors student.

“The pompous style” is a key term in Michael Harvey’s The Nuts and Bolts of College Writing (Indianapolis: Hackett, 2013):

So accustomed are we to the pompous style as the voice of authority that students can’t be blamed for thinking it the way they should write in school. Indeed, our educational institutions — ahem, schools — do much to encourage this belief. Children learn to read and write short, plain sentences — “See Spot run” — then grow older and begin to write as if “Observe Spot in the process of running” were somehow an improvement. By the time they arrive at college, almost all revere formality in and of itself as the mark of good writing. And by and large they learn to write like George Eliot’s self-important man of business, Borthrop Trumbull, talked: “Things never began with Mr. Trumbull: they always commenced.”
A related post
A wrongheaded “dead words” movement

[The Nuts and Bolts of College Writing was my favorite book for teaching college writing: small, inexpensive, beautifully written, sane. I recommend it to all students and teachers.]

comments: 3

Frex said...

Yesterday at a bookstore, I sat and read parts of xkcd's [Randall Munroe's] new book Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words, and it lightened my editor's heart, which was weighted down with pompous words about presidents.

Have you heard about this book? In it, RM explains complicated stuff in the 1,000 most commonly known words. It made me so happy!

I expect you saw this---his article in the New Yorker:
http://www.newyorker.com/tech/elements/the-space-doctors-big-idea-einstein-general-relativity, and it made me very ahppy

Michael Leddy said...

No, I’m familiar with it or the New Yorker piece (though I do read the comic). I’m way behind on New Yorker issues. Weird: I just read about a text-editor that limits the writer to the 1,000 most common words, which I’m now guessing was inspired by this book.

Michael Leddy said...

Oops — I’m not familiar with them. Also, I think that the text-editor might be a spoof. Also, thanks!