Welcome back to R/W, our weekend collaborative linkblog about language, literacy, and learning!
Steven Pinker has a new book out, The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century, and Mother Jones likes it a lot. They’re geeking out over it and Pinker’s revelation that according to science, blah-de-blah grammar rules aren’t a thing.
He’s right, of course, and so is Mother Jones. Science, linguistics to be specific as well as a host of associated disciplines, doesn’t provide back up to those finicky grammar rules that your grade school teacher tried to drill into you.
So yeah, they’re right, but not for the reasons Mother Jones cites. The framing, boo bears.
Those grammar rules that are anything but intuitive? That just seem like stuffy nonsense? Things like, don’t split an infinitive, or start a sentence with a conjunction, or end sentences with a preposition? They aren’t rules of English grammar, they’re matters of traditional style, Latin grammar rules imposed on a language that was thought to be of low cultural value.
It’s not that science trumps grammar — grammar is a part of the science of linguistics — it’s that those “rules” are ahistorical flimflam, class markers meant to divide us — everyday English speakers who have an intuitive grasp of the language’s character — from them.
Go ahead, split the infinitive, go wild with prepositions, and employ conjunctions where you will. It’s class warfare!
Calling all book and font nerds and book-font nerds! Penguin and typographer Jessica Hische redesigned a series of bookcovers for classics ranging from A-Z. My personal favorites are Cather’s, Flaubert’s, Melville’s, and Steinbeck’s. I can just imagine this beautiful collection sitting on the shelves of my future library with hidden passage. Hische also details her creative process which was interesting to read. Take a look here.
Hische talks about how the books inspired her designs over at Buzzfeed.