Effective English

… more important than so-called good English [is] effective English. English that clearly, strongly and unambiguously ‐ unless you’ve a penchant for ambiguity – conveys from writers’ brains through their typing fingers and onward to the imaginations of their readers what it is that writers are attempting to communicate.

Benjamin Dreyer is “is vice president, executive managing editor and copy chief, of Random House”. He has just released a book called Dreyer’s English AN UTTERLY CORRECT GUIDE TO CLARITY AND STYLE, which I am neither endorsing nor not endorsing. I am less likely to buy it after finding myself described as a “godless savage”, and Dreyer obviously didn’t proofread that job title himself. And I would question three things about style in the quotation itself. But I fully endorse effective English.

Today on the Sydney Morning Herald website is this article, from which the quotation comes.

(Checks post very carefully in case there’s any mistakes: Muphry’s Law.)


4 thoughts on “Effective English

    • Not me personally, just most non-US English writers and editors. On Random House’s page for the book (linked), they quote him as saying “Only godless savages eschew the series comma”. Actually, I don’t eschew it, I use it where it’s needed and don’t where it’s not.

      Liked by 1 person

      • It seems to be an ad hominim attack on a group of professionals with whom the writer disagrees on a grammar point!. And in the current political climate in the US this kind of attack on non-US native born citizens is all too common and accepted, even encouraged and celebrated. I won’t stand for it, nor will I support it. I’m tired of all the manufactured crises and xenophobia. We have a sufficient number of actual crises without creating false ones. Mr. Dryer has lost one sale.


  1. its not even about grammar punctuation and capital letters are simply arbitrary conventions of writing even if we didnt have punctuation or capital letters wed still be able to understand each other
    most of the time
    that said punctuation is useful for differentiating between its and its and wed and wed
    and taking a breath
    by the way line breaks are a form of punctuation maybe i shouldnt have used them but i didnt want to exasperate you too much


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