Dennis Meier's Reviews > The Power of Babel: A Natural History of Language

The Power of Babel by John McWhorter
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's review
Dec 02, 2014

liked it

As much as I like McWhorter's writing, there are a few things I would like his editors to correct before publication:
* Convert some of the naked demonstrative pronouns (this, that, these, those) to adjectives. These pronouns frequently make a reader backtrack to recall the referent.
* Use advance organizers to give the reader a better overview of how a discussion is going to be structured. I sometimes found myself wondering where a discussion was going. A map of the forest presented before diving into the trees would help.
* Ruthlessly force a new paragraph when the topic has clearly changed.
* Consistently use "which" as the relative pronoun to introduce a non-restrictive modifying phrase, and set the phrase off with commas.
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Jason I'm not sure if you're being ironic by giving prescriptivist grammatical correction to a staunch descriptivist like McWhorter, but I enjoyed your review nonetheless.

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