Pinker introduces his seminar like this: Let’s face it: most academics are terrible communicators. Why do the world’s most cerebral people find it so hard to convey their ideas? And how can we learn to do better?
The classic style manuals are based on the personal intuitions of journalists and writing instructors and tend to mix some helpful hints with some harmful folklore. I suggest that the modern sciences of mind and language can provide sounder and more systematic guidance to writers today. Thoughtful writers should begin with a clear idealization of the simulated scenario in which they are communicating with their readers. They must overcome The Curse of Knowledge – the inability to imagine what it’s like not to know what they do know. They should understand how syntax works and thus how best to deploy the grammatical resources of the English language. And they should know how to think about the rules of correct usage, distinguishing the ones that enhance clarity and grace from the shibboleths and superstitions.
A light breakfast will be served from 08:00. Welcome!