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Monday, April 22, 2013

Avoiding cliché language

You don't want your main thesis, or your main topic sentences, to be clichés about "cultural anxiety," "existential anguish," or "the inability of language to represent reality." I chose these three examples because they are from different periods. Cultural anxiety is from the 90s, existential anguish from the 40s and 50s, and ineffability from the 80s (more or less), but you can still find all of them today. Of course, these are successful memes because they do significant work, and they have all shown themselves to be productive, in some sense. New scholars keep discovering them and they can be useful for someone reaching for a vocabulary. What other of these memes are you tired of? Let me know. The winner (with the best [i.e. worst] entry) will receive a free life-time subscription to Stupid Motivational Tricks.


Anonymous said...

The resilience of the human spirit, of course! And the exalted idealism and earthy realism of the Spaniard!
And the hybridity of the Latin American subject!

Leslie said...

(these of course are cliché themes more than language)

Jonathan said...

Those are quite what I had in mind. I'm talking about the actual language otherwise good scholars use to present their mains ideas.

Those are clichéd themes though. I would never use the phrase "the human condition" unless I was referring to a novel by Malraux or something.

Professor Zero said...

As an undergraduate I kept saying that a and b (whatever these were) were inextricably intertwined. Then I started saying a was imbricated with b. Then, b was predicated on a, or a gave rise to b. Now I am fixated on impasses of logic.