Max Lybbert's Reviews > Complete Plain Words 3rd Edition

Complete Plain Words 3rd Edition by Ernest A. Gowers
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M 50x66
's review
Oct 03, 11

The theme of "The Complete Plain Words" is "English is already capable of precisely communicating your message without the need of added jargon or atrocious grammar."

Yes, I giggled when I read "I have no doubt that if anyone should read this book in fifty years' time he would find current objections to the use of certain words in certain senses as curious as we now find Swift's denunciation of mob" (chapter 4). The advice given is still good, if stilted. And, frankly, the examples of poor grammar, poor writing, or unneeded words are still hilarious more than fifty years after the book's publication.

I read the book after reading Dijkstra's critiques of the proposals to the DOD's Ironman programming language contest ( ). Both Dijkstra and Gowers considered poor writing a symptom of muddled thinking, and I now agree with them. Some of the rules from "The Complete Plain Words" will be hard for me to apply, but I expect the reward to be worth the effort.

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