(the) English writer

interwrit

Senior Member
Polish
Hi there! :)

Catch a part of a text about Alan Alexander Milne:

[...]
Milne joined the British Army in World War I and served as an officer in the
Royal Warwickshire Regiment and later, after a debilitating illness, the Royal
Corps of Signals. After the war, he wrote a denunciation of war titled Peace
with Honour (1934), which he retracted somewhat with 1940's War with
Honour. During World War II, Milne was one of the most prominent critics of
English humour writer P. G. Wodehouse, who was captured at his country
home in France by the Nazis and imprisoned for a year.
[...]
The whole quotation is from here: http://www.poemhunter.com/i/ebooks/pdf/alan_alexander_milne_2012_3.pdf (more precisely, the 2nd paragraph of the 2nd page).

Shouldn't there be a definite article, like this: "[...] the English humour writer P. G. Wodehouse [...]"?

Secondly, is there such a phrase in English as "humour writer" in English? Isn't it "humorous writer"?

Many thanks in advance! :)
 
  • Elwintee

    Senior Member
    England English
    Shouldn't there be a definite article, like this: "[...] the English humour writer P. G. Wodehouse [...]"?
    I think it is optional. The lack of a definite article doesn't bother me. The articles are slippery things, and writers often don't play by the 'rules'.

    Secondly, is there such a phrase in English as "humour writer" in English? Isn't it "humorous writer"?
    There is such a phrase, because it is used in this text, is grammatical and comprehensible. Whether it can be improved upon is another matter. Personally, I don't like 'humour writer' firstly because it sounds feeble and awkward and, secondly, because a humorous writer might be a humerous person who writes about tragic themes. I prefer 'humorist' (one definition of which is 'a writer of comic stories').
     

    heypresto

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I think 'English humour writer' is being used adjectivally here, and not as a noun, so it doesn't require an article.

    A 'humour writer' is someone who writes humorous stories, novels, articles etc. He or she isn't necessarily a humorous person.

    A 'humorous writer' is a writer who is a humorous person. His or her writing, however, may be very serious or formal.


    Cross-posted with Elwintee, with whom I agree - I don't like 'humour writer' either.
     

    Franco-filly

    Senior Member
    English - Southern England
    1. I don't think the definite article is necessary - it could even imply that Wodehouse was the only English writer of humour. 2. While readers may find his writings humorous, he is writing humour.
     

    rhitagawr

    Senior Member
    British English
    I agree that humorous writer is better than humour writer. Personally I'd have written comic writer.
    It's common in writing to omit the definite article where the construction is profession+name. Historian A.J.P. Taylor was a popular broadcaster. I think this style of writing is journalistic, lazy, and not to be recommended.
     

    interwrit

    Senior Member
    Polish
    [...]
    A 'humorous writer' is a writer who is a humorous person. His or her writing, however, may be very serious or formal.
    [...]
    [...]and, secondly, because a humorous writer might be a humerous person who writes about tragic themes. I prefer 'humorist' (one definition of which is 'a writer of comic stories').
    [...]



    Inasmuch as the adjective humorous has not only one meaning, I disagree. Note that this adjective can mean not only "funny", but also "employing humor" and that's what I'm talking about here.
     

    interwrit

    Senior Member
    Polish
    I agree that humorous writer is better than humour writer. Personally I'd have written comic writer.
    It's common in writing to omit the definite article where the construction is profession+name. Historian A.J.P. Taylor was a popular broadcaster. I think this style of writing is journalistic, lazy, and not to be recommended.
    Thank you very much! :)
     

    JustKate

    Moderate Mod
    Sorry to disagree, but I don't see anything wrong with either "the humor writer P.G. Wodehouse" or "humor writer P.G. Wodehouse." There is nothing wrong with "journalistic writing" per se. There are times and places where it is inappropriate, but that doesn't mean it should always be avoided, and it also doesn't mean it's "lazy." It fits somewhere between very formal writing and really informal writing, and that means it fills a useful niche. It shouldn't be used all the time, of course, but then really formal writing is out of place at times, too.

    As Rhitagawr points out, it is common to drop the article when using a noun phrase as a modifier. Where we disagree is that although he considers this to be a bad idea, I think it's fine. But it's fine to use the article as well.
     

    JustKate

    Moderate Mod
    I'm afraid we're going to have to agree to disagree on that, too. Humorous writer doesn't mean the same thing. Comic writer works, but humor/humour writer is fine as well - if for no other reason than that it has been accepted usage (by most people, anyway ;) ) for decades, if not longer.
     

    rhitagawr

    Senior Member
    British English
    The first definition Chambers gives of humorist is someone with a sense of humour, which I find surprising. I'd never use it in this way. Frank Muir (older BE readers will remember him) described himself as a humorist. He wasn't a comedian. He was very learned and witty. He made a study of humour and why people find certain things funny. I suppose you could describe P.G. Wodehouse as a humorist.
     
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