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As a teacher who helps first-year college students get better acquainted with English, I notice how people use words to convey messages.

Today I spotted this sign in an insurance agency window:

No soliciting permitted at this establishment.

Must be they were trying to fill the sheet of paper the message was printed on. After all, a simple "no soliciting" would have done the trick.

In The Elements of Style, Strunk and White zeroed in on this topic way back in 1918: "Omit needless words," they wrote. It was good advice 95 years ago, but it might be even more important in our message-saturated, short-attention-span age.

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( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
nodressrehersal
Aug. 23rd, 2013 11:09 pm (UTC)
Wise words.


(see how I kept it really brief up there? I was inspired by the wisdom of this post.)
patrick_vecchio
Aug. 23rd, 2013 11:36 pm (UTC)
Good!
nodressrehersal
Aug. 24th, 2013 12:26 am (UTC)
Thanks.
anita_margarita
Aug. 26th, 2013 12:13 am (UTC)
My mother's Bible was Elements of Style and I believe I still have her copy, as well as one she gave me.
patrick_vecchio
Aug. 26th, 2013 12:16 am (UTC)
My go-to writing book is the Little, Brown Handbook. I have one in my home office and another at work, both within arm's length. I have only one copy of The Elements of Style, here at home.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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“Filling this empty space constitutes my identity.” – Twyla Tharp

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"The wreckage of the sky serves to confirm us in delicious error." – John Ashbery

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"For my part, I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of stars makes me dream." – Vincent van Gogh

"It is only with the heart that one can see right; what is essential is invisible to the eye." — Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

"Forget about being a perfectionist, because entropy always wins out in the end." – Darren Kaufman.

"Impermanence. Impermanence. Impermanence." – Garry Shandling

"Fame is a vapor; popularity an accident; the only earthly certainty is oblivion." – Mark Twain

"There is no realm wherein we have the truth." – Gordon Lish

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• Journal title and subtitle: Ian Hunter, “Man Overboard”

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