Saturday, May 07, 2005

Sheridan Baker Redux

Yesterday, I praised Sheridan Baker's Practical Stylist. I first read Baker nearly 30 years ago, but I still learn more about writing each time that I reread his book.

Here's how the 8th edition (1998) begins:

"Writing is one of the most important things we do. It helps us catch our ideas, realize our thoughts, and stand out as fluent persuasive people both on paper and on our feet" (page 1).

My copy of the 6th edition (1986) begins the same way. I like that. It's like encountering an old, familiar friend. Maybe we've entered the "Age of the Internet," and so has Baker, but here's my old friend, The Practical Stylist, still greeting me with those warm familiar words.

Baker has his limitations. He assumes a readership of native speakers of English:

"The language we share is Standard English" (page 1).

Thus begins the book's second paragraph, thereby quickly excluding most of my students. "We," then, is not really every reader, and I can't use Baker in my writing classes in Korea.

But I sure wish that I could.


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