Sunday, May 07, 2006

Convoluted Academic Language

This one - which could be understood as a piece of self-criticism - is for Cliff, who appears to be taking a break from blogging to find his voice.

The author of this piece about convoluted academic language in the Guardian engages in a delicious piece of auto-criticism by reprinting one choice sentence of his own:

"Using large, computer-based corpora linked to databases of socio-geographical information about speakers does, however, give us access to a bird's-eye view of what present-day spoken usage is, and we must surely accept as 'good' spoken English that which is widely attested across speakers of different ages, genders, social and geographical backgrounds, that is to say, our common coinage, the plain, everyday talk of the plain people of the speech community, and not just that of its super-skilful members who command the airwaves and the public platforms."

He freely admits that this sentence, which provoked outrage from the intended rather generalist reading audience, is "simply too long; it could have been said in half the words, or in two or three separate sentences." It also contains some pieces of jargon like "corpora" and "socio-geographical".

As he said - and I take this as a message to me, an academic, writing on a blog and reacting in a prickly way sometimes to suggestions that I don't make my message clear or that I "overintellectualise", everyone needs to remember their audience:

"Texts are for readers, not for their writers, and we should respect our readers by choosing our grammar appropriately, so that it helps, not hinders, the processing of the specialist vocabulary and concepts."

I'll try. I really will.

3 Comments:

Blogger Numptie said...

And I will be watching with interest, and if you fail I will point you in the direction of your own words as written here!

Monday, May 08, 2006  
Blogger Cliff said...

Don't pay any attention to me BW, From my poisition on the IQ scale I think jade Goody overintellectualises

Monday, May 08, 2006  
Blogger BondWoman said...

YOu shouldn't be so self-deprecating. Everything has its place and so does the sharpener. maybe even jade goodey does. I don't think numptie knows who she is, by the way, despite his professed knowledge of popular culture.

Monday, May 08, 2006  

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