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Vernacular Eloquence: What Speech Can Bring to Writing 1st Edition

4.9 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0199782512
ISBN-10: 0199782512
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Editorial Reviews

Review


"...[S]urely some of the best work [Elbow] has done in his long and brilliant career. ... Elbow's book talks the talk and walks the walk: it is itself a demonstration of his subtitle--what speech can bring to writing. ... Bravo to Peter Elbow for this learned, provocative, and forward-looking book." --Andrea A. Lunsford, award-winning author of The St. Martin's Handbook


"Whether you aim to improve your own writing, help others improve theirs, understand more about written language, or just want to enjoy enthusiastic, passionate writing at its best, this book is for you. With a disarmingly simple thesis about what spoken language contributes to writing, Vernacular Eloquence makes major contributions to theory and to practice." --David Barton, author of Literacy: An Introduction to the Ecology of Written Language


"What a wonderful, enticing book! As only he can, Peter Elbow explores the intricate relationship between speech and writing with broad learning, bold thinking, and a finely tuned sensibility." --Mike Rose, author of An Open Language: Selected Writing on Literacy, Learning, and Opportunity


"English and speech-communication educators, linguists, cognitive psychologists, and writers will find this book is filled with a multitude of insightful ideas for application--and scholarly research." --Rosalind Horowitz, editor of Talking Texts: How Speech and Writing Interact in School Learning


"This title should greatly interest English language and linguistics scholars and teachers. Any readers willing either to dig deep or skim and skip will also find fresh ideas and renewed energy for writing." --Library Journal


"More philosophically rigorous, more historically nuanced, and more socially engaged...and...still delivers the sort of deeply refreshing, commonsensical, practical wisdom about the writing process that has become synonymous with his name." --Rhetoric Review


"The book is organized in a unique and purposeful manner.... Highly recommended." --CHOICE


About the Author


Peter Elbow is Professor of English Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and former director of its Writing Program. He is the author of Writing Without Teachers, Writing With Power, Embracing Contraries, and Everyone Can Write.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 456 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (January 13, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199782512
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199782512
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 1.4 x 6.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #255,640 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

By Julie Bogart on January 24, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Peter Elbow is like a stone in the shoe of the educational establishment. Rather than harp on about models and methods, Elbow gets to the original impulse for language: speech, writing as a form of speech, and understanding all the ranges of Englishes, audience, form, expression that create the writing we value. Vernacular Eloquence taps into the insights we have from spoken language to help us in our quest to write freely and naturally. I love all of Elbow's books and have found his insights to match my direct experience, teaching writing to students 8-18 over the last nearly 15 years.
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By alaskafan on December 29, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Anything Peter Elbow tells us about writing is absolutely "spot on!" He is easy to read, uses common sense, and adds much to any teacher's bag of tools. This is simply one more addition to a shelf made up mostly of his books. There us a saying, "If you can talk, you can write!" Elbow agrees!
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This book was assigned to my class to read for a college english course. I had a love-hate relationship with it for the few weeks we were assigned to read from it, due to the fact that it takes a very long time to make very excellent points. Not entirely suitable for a college text, but something instead I would rather read on my own without a pressing time schedule to adhere to. It came to the point where I could literally read the first and last (and sometimes not even the last) sentence of each paragraph and still very well contribute to discussion during class time. After reading thoroughly the first few assignments, I gave up and used the extra time to work on more pressing homework I had to do. It was not entirely a pleasant thing to do though as I genuinely found the points that Elbow makes to be fascinating, and I wanted to read more, but could not due to the time restraint.

Overall if your professor assigns you this book to read (and you are not a very speedy reader), you can easily get away with glancing over the pages to pick up the main content. If you are reading this for yourself though, a genuine read is worth every minute it takes.
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Format: Paperback
Years ago, when I taught at NC State University, I conducted one-on-one conference meetings with students during which I would read their drafts and provide them with feedback on the spot. Many of the assignments took students out of their cognitive comfort zones and into the abstract world of analyzing and interpreting scholarly articles of subjects that interested them. As I read these drafts, I encountered disjointed sentence structures, wordy, unfinished, incoherent thoughts, and mangled mechanics. Rather than edit their mistakes and fix their sentences, I pointed to the paragraphs in question and asked, “What are you really trying to say here?”

They re-read them and shrugged their shoulders, replying, “I don’t know.”

“Well, what do you want to *tell* me about it?” I asked.

Each student would then close his/her eyes, and in the simplest and clearest language possible, explain the subject accurately, if not perfectly, while I frantically scribbled in the margins to capture their words verbatim.

“Say it like that,” I then instructed with a smile.

Their relief and sense of accomplishment was both visible and contagious. This small act of “speaking onto the page” helped them turn a complex thought into a clear one, and a problematic sentence into a polished one.

Those who know me well know how much Peter Elbow influenced me during my formative years as both a graduate student of professional writing (with an emphasis on rhetoric and composition) and an instructor of freshman college writing, which I taught for twelve years. I never had the opportunity to work with him professionally, but I remember attending my first academic conference and sitting in the front row during one of his sessions, practically starstruck.
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