New handbook for writers - by Sumner Ives - PDF book

New handbook for writers

New handbook for writers


This book is an attempt to supply information about language in general, about English in particular, and about the special conventions of edited written English which will help anyone to write more effectively and to obey the appropriate conventions. It is based on the following beliefs.


1. In order to teach current usage and to explore the grammatical resources of the language, one needs a terminology for the types of words, functions, and structural elements in the language, and he needs a description of the customary structural patterns according to which sentences are made with these elements. 

This terminology should be based on a classification resulting from an inductive examination of current English, and the definitions should be finite; that is, the defining characteristics should be matters of form and arrangement that native speakers of the language can recognize without hesitation. The classification which produced traditional grammar does not satisfy this condition; nevertheless, in so far as possible, familiar terms should be used, provided these terms can be defined according to the current facts of English form and function.


2. Proficiency in a composition is not gained by a knowledge of grammar alone, not even by accurate knowledge. Hence, students should practice the individual operations of writing, from the manipulation of structures within a sentence to the organization of the whole composition.

3. Since most freshmen do not have a habitual command of the usages currently found in edited written English, a handbook should present these usages, recognizing such differences as those between formal and informal style, and acknowledging that some diversity in usage exists in the writing of professionals.

 For example, a conversational piece by James Thurber may contain usages which, although appropriate there and in other writing of the same type, would not be appropriate in a book review or a research paper. In other words, a handbook should evaluate us- ages, but its evaluations should be based on current practices in edited writing rather than on the dicta of older handbooks. In this respect, then, it should be consistent with the policies of the best current dictionaries.

4. Since a language is essentially a symbolic system developed as a medium of communication, however, it may be used at any one time, the relations between form and meaning, the dependence of meaning on a form, should be pointed out in detail. Also, the limitations of language in communication and the chief auxiliary kinds of meaning should be discussed.

5. Since good expository writing depends finally on good thinking, some of the common principles of clear thinking and logical proof should be explored, as well as some of the ways in which thinking only appears to be logical. 6. Since good grammatical usage is only a prerequisite to good writing, a handbook should give and illustrate the more important principles of rhetoric, such matters as organization, coherence, paragraph development, and sentence effectiveness.

6. Since good grammatical usage is only a prerequisite to good writing, a handbook should give and illustrate the more important principles of rhetoric, such matters as organization, coherence, paragraph development, and sentence effectiveness.

7. Since writing requires more solving of problems than recalling of data, pedagogical materials should be presented as problems requiring solutions rather than as rules to be memorized. For in- stance, the students should be taught the ways to punctuate specific constructions rather than rules for the use of particular marks, especially since some constructions may be punctuated in more than one way, depending on the stylistic effect which is desired.

8. The emphasis throughout should be on learning new re- sources — grammatical, lexical, and stylistic. The common errors should be pointed out, but the approach to composition should be consistently positive rather than negative. This principle follows from the belief that linguistic poverty is, for most students, a greater problem than linguistic error.

9. A handbook for composition should be organized so that it can be used as a reference work as well as a textbook. That is, it should be arranged so that students can be referred to specific pages for matters giving them difficulty, and every reasonable means should be taken to make each reference whole in itself or to point out.

the book details :
  • Author: Sumner Ives
  • Publication date: 1960
  • Company: New York,: Knopf

  • Download 14 MB

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