Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Thinking and writing (1)

Sir Ernest Gowers:

Clear thinking is hard work, but loose thinking is bound to produce loose writing. And clear thinking takes time, but time that has to be given to a job to avoid making a mess of it cannot be time wasted and may in the end be time saved.

The Complete Plain Words , rev. Sidney Greenbaum and Janet Whitcut (Boston: David R. Godine, 1988).
I love the plainness of “making a mess of it.”

Sir Ernest Gowers (1880–1966), a British civil servant, wrote Plain Words (1948) and The ABC of Plain Words (1951), books meant to foster clarity and humanity in official English. He combined the two books to make The Complete Plain Words (1954). Gowers also edited the second edition of H. W. Fowler’s A Dictionary of Modern English Usage (1965). The Complete Plain Words has been revised by Bruce Fraser (1973), by Greenbaum and Whitcut (1986), and by Rebecca Gowers, Sir Ernest’s great-granddaughter (2014). I’ve had the 1988 American paperback on a shelf for five or six years. And now I’m reading it.

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