The Elements of Expression: Putting Thoughts Into Words

Arthur Plotnik, Author
Arthur Plotnik, Author Henry Holt & Company $20 (0p) ISBN 978-0-8050-3773-9
Paperback - 160 pages - 978-0-8050-3774-6
Paperback - 240 pages - 978-0-595-09118-8
Compact Disc - 978-1-62064-177-4
Compact Disc - 978-0-7927-8799-0
Paperback - 240 pages - 978-1-936740-14-7
Open Ebook - 348 pages - 978-1-936740-24-6
Ebook - 1 pages - 978-0-7927-8800-3
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This entertaining potpourri of thoughts about words by the associate publisher of the American Library Association touches on a variety of philological concerns. Plotnik (Elements of Editing) fails to lead with his strength: not a trained linguist, he does draw a distinction between prescriptive and descriptive grammar, coming down heavily in favor of the latter and ignoring possibilities of compromise. But he gets into trouble when he classifies all expressions as either standard or substandard, allowing for no distinction between formal and informal usage and accusing ""authorities"" of giving slang, jargon, argot and the like roughly equal status But once he turns to the steps leading to expressiveness, he is most effective, demonstrating a fine ability to choose quotations from writers past and present that really sing. He deals with verbal power, cliches, borrowing apt phrases from others, jargon and even public speaking. A helpful little compendium for writers and speakers wishing to brush up on their prose. (Apr.)
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