Ben Yagoda has a revealing article over at the Chronicle of Higher Education website, in which he correctly identifies the problem with much of today’s writing: unfamiliarity with written English.
“If you haven’t read much, when you set pen to paper yourself, you take things more slowly and apply a literal-minded logic, as you would in finding your way through a dark house.”
Yagoda, a professor of English at the University of Delaware, calls it “clunk.” And while he’s speaking primarily about his students’ work, it’s worth noting that these students eventually become professionals in one field or another—and the ignorance continues unabated.
Like jazz musicians, who, when asked to explain the concept of swing, will usually tell you to put on a record and just listen, Yagoda has some simple advice for those confused by grammar and punctuation: read.
In related news, the folks at Electric Literature demonstrate that a book just might save your life.