9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Shining Sword of entertaining, elegant and precise prose!,
This review is from: Stylish Academic Writing (Hardcover)
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Wow, can this girl write. 'Spellbound' would be the word that springs to mind: for Prof. Sword has a beautiful turn of phrase, that I accept I will aspire to all my life, but will be unlikely to ever attain.
The book impresses on so many levels. Firstly: it's a beautiful book, nicely bound, lovely graphics on the cover, precisely printed with amazing, effortless punctuation and precise placing of each word. Secondly: though one could argue that it's a dry subject, Prof Sword handles it beautifully, entertainingly and with alacrity. Thirdly: though it is American spelling throughout: the text is crafted with clear and concise prose that is a delight to read.
What struck me on watching one of the latest Hollywood blockbusters last weekend, was just how quickly the American language is diverging from classical English: for it no longer comes down to the spelling of color or colour, but also the very basis on which our sentences rest. The film was intriguing in the sense that it had some wonderful dialogue on one hand, and on the other, whole strings of words and sentences that were unintelligible! This is a shame: for surely it must be the first duty of any author or writer to communicate with his/her audience. ( I am certain that many Americans would have the same view of some English writers).
The NHS is presently going through a drive whereby patients can request copies of clinic letters. This, at first glance is a good thing. My problem, which the author highlights unequivocally, is that often clever, learned people hide behind impenetrable jargon and see no need to explain it to their audience - in this instance my patients! Thus; I had a little old lady who had been to a specialist clinic, and only on the day of her operation did she learn that a hip revision meant that the old hip would be removed and a new one inserted ( she refused ). Whether we know what revision means or not; my point is that she should not have been allowed to leave any of those three (!) clinics without knowing precisely what was being offered, in words she could understand. Similarly, yesterday, a patient who brought her clinic letter and asked me to explain what "serious compromise of systolic function" meant. Of course, I am used to such jargon and was able to clarify, but why was she allowed to leave that clinic without someone telling her that she has a serious, life-threatening problem with her heart?
The most tantalising thing about this book is the gift of hope that it offers: for it reinforces my belief that there are a few people out there who write reports, articles, papers or books for the attention of others and who strive word-by-word, line-by-line to be better at this practise tomorrow, than they are today: and the fact that Helen Sword is way ahead of many of us should not discourage us from making the attempt because she has shown us what amazing results can be achieved. With many thanks.