The Elements of Style – Updated by Pritchard

Hyattsville Arts Festival

To all wordsmiths and students of grammar:  There I am, sitting at my table at the Hyattsville Arts Festival, waiting for someone to look at my wares—Cologne No. 10 For Men and Well Considered. I am reading my recent acquisition—William Strunk, Jr., The Elements of Style, Updated and Annotated For Present-Day Use, by Stanford Pritchard. A fortyish man stops in his tracks and asks me, “Is that the Elements of Style?” I say, “Yes—by Strunk, but updated by Pritchard.” He looks at me in amazement and says, “I’ve never seen anyone actually read that before.” I suppose he likens it to reading the dictionary.  Hundreds of thousands of copies of previous versions sit on shelves above desks throughout the land, right next to Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, but are rarely opened and used. I say, “Yes, I’m studying it to see how my writing stacks up.  So far, not too bad.” He smiles and moves on, obviously neither a grammarian nor a fan of fiction. The festival is lively with lots of people, children, artists, crafters, musicians, food, beer, and book buyers. The rain holds off all day. And in spare moments, I have a pleasant time reviewing my grammar, usage, principles of composition, misused expressions, commonly misspelled words, punctuation, clichés, and other irritating solecisms highlighted by Pritchard’s dry wit, and noting in the margins a few things I may need to change in my new novel using Word’s Search Document.

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One Response to The Elements of Style – Updated by Pritchard

  1. Maybe that guy was surprised people read S&W because it is full of errors, pompous attitude, and useless advice. Neither author was a linguist or specialist in grammar after all. I haven’t read the updated version you mention, so maybe things have changed. But I don’t have my fingers crossed.

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