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https://www.duolingo.com/SussexSoleil

Good written English: The Economist Style Guide

I can strongly recommend The Economist Style Guide as a free guide to good English writing. Here is the link to the Introduction:

http://www.economist.com/styleguide/introduction

Many sections of the Guide are worth exploring if you have questions about English usage.

There is a useful section about using Foreign names and words in English under "F".

It is written for native English speakers, so some of the points are quite subtle.

il y a 4 ans

6 commentaires


https://www.duolingo.com/johaquila
johaquila
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This is just the usual collection of advice that must under no circumstances be taken literally. It's telling that Orwell felt compelled to add Rule 6: "Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous". Even though he formulated his rules as absolute ones, unlike many prescriptivists he wasn't so stupid as to believe he was actually following them all the time. If something barabarous can sometimes come out if we take the rules as absolutes, we can expect that in milder cases the result is just ordinary poor style.

For instance, the page in Strunk and White that tells us never to use the passive voice doesn't just give some examples that are not passive at all, it also uses passive constructions in the text itself. There is a reason why the passive exists, and the only thing that's wrong about it is using it too much or for the wrong things.

On one hand, most of this advice is good in the sense: Think about it, don't take it too seriously, and your writing is likely to improve. On the other hand some people take it literally and sometimes even force others who depend on them to take it seriously. Apparently based on the principle: "If every competent native speaker follows it most of the time, it's too natural to be a good rule. Good rules must be counterintuitive and hard to follow because only by following rules of this nature can you prove that you worked hard to distinguish yourself from the rabble."

Proper linguists have some choice words for language 'experts' who want to forbid passive voice, long words, 'needless' words or even adjectives in the name of good style.

il y a 4 ans

https://www.duolingo.com/SussexSoleil

I could only provide a link to one of the twenty or so web pages making up this guide. It seemed logical to provide a link starting with the Introduction which, as you say, is not to be taken too literally and is meant to be light-hearted.

However, there are specific points later on that are not matters of opinion, e.g. on the word "An":

"An should be used before a word beginning with a vowel sound (an egg, an umbrella, an MP) or an h if, and only if, the h is silent (an honorary degree). But a European, a university, a U-turn, a hospital, a hotel. Historical is an exception: it is preceded by an, the h remaining silent."

I recently had to make this very point to a French learner on Duolingo. Had she read this for herself, that would have been one less mistake she would have made and one less for others to explain.

il y a 4 ans

https://www.duolingo.com/DatIsDaz
DatIsDaz
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I never ran across this before, though I'm a dedicated reader of The Economist online version.

Thanks for mentioning it!

il y a 4 ans

https://www.duolingo.com/ClimateCanary

Thank you for that really useful link, I have bookmarked it. A lingot is winging its way to you !! ;))

il y a 4 ans

https://www.duolingo.com/SussexSoleil

Thank you, and now with your lingot we are even again.

il y a 4 ans

https://www.duolingo.com/ClimateCanary

Oh, thank you !! ;))

il y a 4 ans

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