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Sunday, October 23, 2011


People, have a native speaker of English check over your prose. Even if you are a native speaker of English. For reasons I cannot disclose, I have had to read a lot of sentences recently about how "my project portrays the adumbrations of residences of ethical disport in the work of the the prize-winning author, XXX, who is a personal friend of mine." Maybe you are native speaker, but you somehow believe that to be Taken Seriously As An Academic, you have to write like that. You don't. Nobody is impressed by your pretentious verbiage and your meaningless concatenations of noun-phrases. Not only am I not impressed, but I think you should not even be a college professor. How can you be in the position of teaching students to express their ideas clearly if you cannot do it yourself?


Andrew Shields said...

I am in the midst of a troublesome situation with a translation I just finished, of a dissertation abstract. The author wanted me to "just translate" the German text and not "rewrite it." But when the text is written with the full power of German grammar (which is very powerful) and German word-formation (which is even more powerful), then you can't "translate" it without "rewriting" it. Or you end up with just the kind of prose that you are condemning here.

My word verification is "pingish." I hereby declare English prose with too many nouns to be "pingish."

Jonathan said...

You have to have the author first rewrite it in German into a translation-friendly German style.

Andrew Shields said...

I'm going to do that next time I get a text like that! (Or at least warn the author that the translation will also be a rewriting.)

[I only just figured out why I was not receiving blog-comment emails. Problem solved!]