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Contrafactum

I wrote a contrafactum to rhythm changes today. Or I should say that one just occurred to the fingers of my right hand as I was playing, aft...

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Verbiage

I recently came across a paragraph that included phrases like the following:
To the foregoing roster of the transformative implications ...

... I now want to add, and devote the rest of this essay to unpacking, one last matter, the question of ...

What follows wishes to bear out the claim that ...

And thus from here—counter-intuitively enough, from the ...

I wish this kind of writing were absent from academic prose, but it is very common. The problem is that people who begin sentences with "what follows wishes to bear out the claim" are those charged with teaching others how to write and think clearly. I advise against including strings of words that don't say anything. Signposting is one thing, but doing it with so little grace is inexcusable.

3 comments:

Clarissa said...

Oh, this brings back such fond memories of the time when I used to write exactly this way. And worse.

I'm still embarrassed about that. :-)

fjb said...

As one who has sometimes defended signposting here, I agree - these examples are inexcusable.

Andrew Shields said...

I had an interesting discussion with a very smart former student the other day: I had suggested removing "I believe" from a complicated point he was making in a text he quoted on his Facebook page. And he provided an articulate defense of it. The point was that he was *thinking* about what his signposting was doing. The writer of such stuff as you quoted here was clearly *not* thinking about what he/she was writing.