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Hilarious rap on The Elements of Style – instant classic

“The Elements of Style”

Video creator Jake Heller told Poynter.org, “Every year, Columbia Journalism School holds an end-of-semester party called Lucille’s Ball, where students roast the faculty and make light of all the hard work we put in over the semester. I knew that I wanted to make a video, but didn’t know what the video would be.”

Heller continued, “Then, a couple of months ago, it struck me that I could try to do for journalism nerds what the Keynes vs. Hayek video did for econ nerds, by transforming “The Elements of Style” into a rap video. The book is required reading for the whole class, so I figured it would be something that everyone could enjoy. But, basically, I just ripped off the Keynes vs. Hayek idea.”

Brilliant. Beginners can pick up a few pointers from the rap while even the most skilled writers can benefit from the refresher. We can’t decide if we most enjoy the mustaches, the 40s, or the actual lesson, you?

Rap lyrics:

My name is Strunk
And they call me White
Here to teach you how to put the pen down right
I see that your writing is a little bit wild
These are the Elements of Style.

Will Strunk in the house but don’t call me junior
Grammatical genius. Number one word groomer.
I teach English 8 at the school of Cornell
Choose your words carefully or I’ll put you through hell.

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E.B. White on the mic, former student of Strunk
A story that flows is all I need to get crunk
Write for the New Yorker, papers marked up in scarlet
I spin webs with words like my name was Charlotte.

“In the last analysis”
That’s a bankrupt expression
It’s clear you’re not learning
So listen to my lesson.

Omit needless words. Good writing is concise
When I was in your class, you repeated that thrice
9 times out of 10 ‘student body’ is wrong
Say students instead. Move your story right along.

My name is Strunk
And they call me White
Here to teach you how to put the pen down right
I see that your writing is a little bit wild
These are the Elements of Style.

Split infinitive
Never definitive
Sounds unintelligent
Dumb and inelegant.
Just say it like you meant
Always write with intent
Each word precious
Like Benjamin’s that you spent.

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Do not join independent clauses with a comma.
But I love it, it’s cool.
I don’t care if you wanna.

Jails and schools should not be called facilities.
I hate all these writers with second-rate abilities.
Don’t use dialect ‘less your ear be good
You cover East Harlem, but you ain’t from the hood.

Be clear brief bold with each story told
If it’s your goal to turn ink to gold.

My name is Strunk
And they call me White
Now you know how to put the pen down right
When I read your work, you know I’m gonna smile
Those were the Elements of Style.

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24 Comments

24 Comments

  1. Michael Shetler

    December 16, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    Embarrassing.

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