Michael Morse mwmorse at bell.net
Thu Apr 26 08:03:08 PDT 2012

Dear Stephen,
  Thanks as ever for your incisive thoghts. It occurs to me that the textbook ideal your advocating is akin to Strunk & White's Elements of Style, a concise set of guidelines to the grammar and syntax of composition. We have had many debates here, and will have many more, about the status and meaning opf rules and rule systems. I tend to side, and strongly, with the anti-rule crowd, especially vis a vis prohibitions; for beginners and even intermediate students, telling them what not to do can encourage them to start warring against their own ears, a battle they may never end. As do Strunk & White, I think the best way to frame negative injunctions is as editing and proofreading principles, as ways to improve the students' solutions to given problems. A 100 or so page manual leaves these processes to the pedagogical interaction of instructor and pupil--very wisely, I believe.
Michael W. MorseTrent UniversityPeterborough, Oshawa
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