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Jeff Cooper's writing style question.

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by Balrog, Jul 5, 2010.

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  1. Balrog

    Balrog Member

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    I love reading Jeff Cooper's writings, but have often wondered why he speaks in the plural rather than the singular when apparently referring to himself.

    For example, rather than saying "I have noticed" he will usually write "We have noticed". Who is the "we" he is referring to?? He doesnt usually state a specific person, other than himself, to whom the "we" would refer.

    He seems to pride himself on somewhat verbose and grammatically correct English, so I find this somewhat curious... or perhaps I should say, "we" find this somewhat curious.
     
  2. russ69

    russ69 Member

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    "We" refers to himself and his followers at his shooting school.

    Thanx, Russ
     
  3. K9american

    K9american Member

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    It's called the "editorial we". Rather strict and "proper" writing form from (sadly) days gone by. Similar in origin to a writer saying "this writer" instead of just plain "I".

    Fits with your depiction of his "verbose and grammatically correct English", no?
     
  4. pmeisel

    pmeisel Member

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    Cooper was educated in a more formal time, and adopted the most formal of acceptable writing styles for that period... in other words he was pretty stuffy and big-headed about his writing.

    That said, he knew his stuff. The royal "we" aside there is not much about his commentary to find fault with.
     
  5. PotatoJudge

    PotatoJudge Member

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    He did use the editorial "we" after this, but used "I" more frequently after this statement.
     
  6. The Lone Haranguer

    The Lone Haranguer Member

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    It certainly set him apart from the crowd. :D
     
  7. Vonderek

    Vonderek Member

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    I don't know I would classify his writing style as "bigheaded". On the contrary, the use of "we" instead of "I" is more of a technique so as not to appear egotistic.
     
  8. Tinpig

    Tinpig Member

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    I believe Mark Twain said something like:

    "The term 'we' in referring to oneself, is usually reserved for editors, royalty, and people with tapeworms."

    :)
    Tinpig
     
  9. CraigC
    • Contributing Member

    CraigC Member

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    Elmer Keith did the same thing.
     
  10. Carl N. Brown

    Carl N. Brown Member

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    In the olde days, using "we" was humble and using "I" was egotistical.
     
  11. Balrog

    Balrog Member

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    Cooper was old, but I am not sure that old.
     
  12. Floppy_D

    Floppy_D Member In Memoriam

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    Thanks, Tinpig! I needed a good laugh. :D
     
  13. yeti

    yeti Member

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    Nor that humble.

    I think King Jeff was demonstrating the appropriate use of the Royal 'WE.'
     
  14. heron

    heron Member

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    Maybe he meant it the way Dirty Harry did . . .

    "Who's 'we'?"
    "Me . . . Smith, and Wesson . . . "
     
  15. ArmedBear

    ArmedBear Member

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    Personally, I think he meant to imply that he was speaking THE truth, not just his own opinion. Or maybe he was actually referring to work done by a group, not just him.

    WRT ELmer Keith, I haven't read everything Keith wrote, but what I have read seems to use "we" when he was referring to experiments that he did with friends and colleagues. Sure, he was a guy who would carry a rifle in his vehicle or on his horse and just take pot shots at faraway rocks for practice (he was apparently a hell of an intuitive wind-reader because of this). But he also did a lot of experimenting in collaboration with some other guys.

    Keith was, from all I can tell, a friendly and unassuming man, and would not have wanted to claim all the credit by writing "I" when he referred to work done by a group that included him.

    Maybe Cooper was doing the same thing. Or maybe it was the Royal We. Or maybe a bit of both?
     
  16. CraigC
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    CraigC Member

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    Could very well be. I would think it to be unfair to characterize its use by either man as an indication of some form of arrogance. However, let us also not forget the level of confidence and conviction required for these men to have attained the status they did in the industry and not condemn them for it.
     
  17. Werewolf

    Werewolf Member

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    Absolutely correct...

    Col Cooper grew up and was educated in a different time when one's style in spoken and written language was a small measure of the man.
     
  18. ArmedBear

    ArmedBear Member

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    Do you know about Elmer Keith's childhood, and his do-it-yourself reconstructive surgery and physical therapy?

    There was nothing arrogant about that conviction. Read his life story sometime (Hell, I was There). It'll inspire you when you are feeling down about anything, and I mean ANYTHING.
     
  19. Hangingrock

    Hangingrock Member

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    Cooper came from an affluent family that did not suffer thru the great depression. His family traveled to Europe prior to WW2 which included visits to Germany and Russia.

    His service in WW2 as a Marine was aboard the battleship Pennsylvania commanding the Marine detachment. He also had duties within the ships gunnery department and surveying the effectiveness of naval gunfire.

    During the Korean War he was in the clandestine service. He separated from the Marine Corps after hostilities.

    He requested duty during Vietnam but was differed (to old in grade). Basically he had no command experience at platoon, company, and battalion level. At that time most Marine battalion commanders had prior command experience at platoon and company levels in WW2 and Korea.

    I enjoyed his writings but taken with a grain of salt. He left his mark on pistol craft and marksmanship.
     
  20. FLAvalanche

    FLAvalanche Member

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    I always loved Cooper's writing style. Didn't always agree with what he wrote but it was always a joy reading it.
     
  21. GRIZ22

    GRIZ22 Member

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    It certainly set him apart from the crowd.

    I think it's more of a leadership thing he learned in the USMC. A good leader never uses "I" when talking about accomplishments, always "we". We the team. You see this a lot in the military. Patton never said "I defeated the Nazis" he said "We". The book "We Led the Way", an autobiography of the formation of the Rangers, Col Darby always says we did this" or "we did that". You still see it in the military.
     
  22. Drail

    Drail Member

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    I have to agree with the theory of his Marine Corps background. It's all about teamwork. If "we" all work together "we" will win this war. He was from a different time (today it's all about the individual). I personally liked his writing style very much and I believe he advanced "practical" handgun shooting a great deal by simple experimentation and finding out what works and what does not. Almost no one was using both hands to shoot a pistol before Cooper and Weaver decided there was a better way.
     
  23. Carl N. Brown

    Carl N. Brown Member

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    There is no "me" in "team", unless you rearrange the letters.
     
  24. RainDodger

    RainDodger Member

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    I found his style to be really irritating, especially when he used to spout off opinions about non-gun-related things.

    I can't deny what he's done for our sport, but I can't stand to read his writings. JMHO. :)
     
  25. searcher451

    searcher451 Member

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    Much of this is personal preference, both on the part of the writer and certainly on the part of the reader. If you are interested in what the writer is telling you -- the guts of the information being presented -- then the style doesn't matter matter much, nor should it (just take a look at some of the writing quality on a gun forum on the internet :)).

    Lots has been written on the subject -- take your pick:

    http://yaegercommunications.com/?p=402

    http://www.wikihow.com/Avoid-Colloquial-(Informal)-Writing

    http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-the-royal-we.htm

    etc.
     
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