Monday, October 11, 2010

Garner on Language and Writing

By Bryan A. Garner

 From the forward by Ruth Baber Ginsburg, Associate Justice, Supreme Court of the United States:

“Lawyers serve their clients best when their readers can quickly and firmly grasp their points. … Bryan Garner has made the promotion of good legal writing – prose both comprehensible and engaging – his lifelong endeavor. … Garner’s essays not only instruct by prescription, they also teach by example. His prose is a model of precision, elegance and clarity. I am glad to add Garner on Language and Writing to the collection of Garner’s works kept within reach of my writing table.”

Bryan Garner is the ultimate authority on writing, having written and-or edited dozens of books on the subject. Some of the most familiar ones are Black’s Law Dictionary, Garner’s Modern American Usage, The Elements of Legal Style and A Handbook of Family Law Terms.

These books and others provide writers with all the information they need to compose sentences that will meet all the guidelines necessary for proper grammar and punctuation. Although his books deal with law, these guidelines are the same for any type of writing you may do.

I was particularly impressed with this book. I have quite a collection of writing books (as do most writers I know) and if I’m going to add another to my reference shelf, it has to be useful to me. Otherwise, it just takes up space.

“On Language and Writing” is a great addition for me. This huge book (700-plus pages) covers such a variety of topics that I’m sure I will refer to it often. Some of the chapters include persuasive writing, legal language, legal lexicography, citations, autobiographical essays and more.

One of my favorite chapters is about what Garner calls bizarreries – words that are used incorrectly, resulting in unintended humor. Included in this chapter are puns and cruel and unusual English.

This is a wonderful book and if you do any type of writing, you’ll want to consider adding it to your collection of reference books. I’m definitely glad it’s now on my shelf.


Suko said...
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Suko said...

Never heard the term bizarreries before! This does sound like a great reference book for writers. :)