Monthly Archives: February 2014


Language/Writing Tip 23

Experiment with where you place your quotations.

Compare the following:
1) “‘We’ve got him now!’ said Joe. ‘He can’t get down without being caught!'”


2) “Joe said, ‘We’ve got him now! He can’t get down without being caught.'”


3) “‘We’ve got him now! He can’t get down without being caught!’ Joe said.

To my ear, the first example is the most lively – though it’s taken from literature, it’s easy enough to adapt to academic writing.

An invented example:

“‘The verb,’ points out Professor Bernardi, ‘often comes at the end of a German sentence.'”

Also, be sure to comment:

“‘The verb,’ points out Professor Bernardi HELPFULLY/REDUNDANTLY/WISELY, ‘often comes at the end of a German sentence.'”

Calls Events Various

ESSE Conference in Košice – Deadline Extension

The deadline for submitting abstracts of individual papers at seminar sessions and PhD students’ sessions and posters has been extended to 31 March 2014.

Other extended deadlines:
Confirmation of acceptance of abstracts by seminar convenors and PhD session convenors: 15 April 2014.
Applications for fee waivers: 1 April 2014 – 30 April 2014.

Registration will begin on 1 April 2014.
Early registration: 1 April 2014 – 31 May 2014.
Late registration: 1 June 2014 – 29 August 2014.


Language/Writing Tip 22

Here are a three off-the-cuff tips for adding life to your writing:
1) Use adverbs when relating neutral information or citing other sources:

“As Jones states, ‘Hamlet is a famous play.'”

“As Jones CORRECTLY states, ‘Hamlet is a famous play.'”

“As Jones BLANDLY states, ‘Hamlet is a famous play.'”

(A computer could write the first one, not the second two.)

2) Be careful with “started to” and “began to,” especially if the action is immediate:

“She started to throw a punch.”

Never has a fast action seemed so slow!

“He began to fall asleep in class on Monday.”

“He fell asleep in class on Monday” suffices.

3) Mix short and long sentences.

BONUS TIP (from Siobhan McMenemy, a friend and fine editor at University of Toronto Press):

“The moment one reads passionate, honest writing, one knows. It’s one thing to be ‘distant,’ [i.e. objective], but I don’t understand the lack of enthusiasm in so much scholarly work. I push less seasoned authors to develop their own voices not only by encouraging them to stop quoting other people and to tell me what they think, but also by asking them what really matters to them, when it comes to their subject. Why do they care about it? Usually when they start thinking in those terms, the writing comes more easily.”)

All of the tips to date are available at:


Language/Writing Tip 21

Another short one this week:

The phrase “Until not a long time ago…” is less idiomatic than “until not long ago…”

“Until not long ago, I cheered for Ptuj.”

It’s obvious that “long ago” has to do with time, so you can chop “time.”

Similarly, phrases like “a year of days” are redundant. A year is a year is a year. You don’t have to subdivide the time.

(That said, if you are emphasizing the waiting, it can work – e.g. “I’ve been waiting a week of days for you!”)


Language/Writing Tip 20

A short one:

Drop the “I” in “As I mentioned earlier.”

Just write: “As mentioned…”

(Two further notes: Do not overuse this phrase. Also, see if you can drop the “earlier” – the past tense tells us not to fast-forward.)

The rest of the tips are available at: