"This requires a commitment to the provision of adequate data so that informed evaluation can occur. There must be a commitment to the provision of st...more"This requires a commitment to the provision of adequate data so that informed evaluation can occur. There must be a commitment to the provision of statistical information that will facilitate effective monitoring and evaluation strategies and a commitment to the implementation of changes that are identified as necessary following evaluation." -- Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission speech
"I went into a mode of self-preservation." -- Footballer, Fox Footy Channel
A quick, easy read, "Death Sentence" is a long rant about the ubiquity of this kind of empty, ugly, buzzword-filled sludge, with a focus on Australia, where even footballers claim to be "committed to the ball". Watson's politics are clear (he was Paul Keating's speech writer) but that generally doesn't get in the way of the points he makes. The book essentially reiterates what Orwell said more succinctly in "Politics and the English Language", but updates it with modern examples of tortured English, like the two quotes above. Watson writes clearly, skewers his targets, and while deadly serious about the effect of such language on public life, retains perspective and a good sense of humour.
Why only two stars? Mainly a lack of structure or much of a sustained argument. Paragraphs are often only loosely connected. It reads like one day Watson got one bank letter too many and sat down with a list of egregious sentences and punched this out in a single whiskey-fuelled night. But it's not a bad book -- I'd give it an extra half star if I could. It's resensitised me to the poor English of native speakers, and made me realise I need a collection of great speeches. (less)
The Little Green Grammar Book is a great guide but not necessarily a great teacher.
Tredinnick draws together a lot of what I already knew about Engli...moreThe Little Green Grammar Book is a great guide but not necessarily a great teacher.
Tredinnick draws together a lot of what I already knew about English grammar, so I enjoyed the read. But as I discovered when I had to make quizzes based on this book, and teach it to university students, the line between traditional grammar and modern linguistics is straddled uneasily, at least if you're looking for definitive answers. It can be done, and for anyone interested in grammar needs to be done to some extent, if only to make sense of the many competing perspectives on grammar. For someone without much knowledge of grammar, though, it would be easy to read this and walk away thinking they'd learned a lot. I'm not sure how much they'd actually remember. Tredinnick skates over a lot, and chooses his examples carefully, only to (sometimes) return to things later; it's worth re-reading if this is your only introduction to grammar.
Having said that, it is an easy read, and I like Tredinnick's approach, which is very much geared towards writers and concerned with what works more than what is "right". As long as you're not expecting the One True Grammar of English--which doesn't exist--there's a lot of useful material in here.