Language/Writing Tip 10

When mentioning time, note the difference between “only at” and “not until”:

“I can meet you only at four” does not mean “I can’t meet you until four.”

If you want to emphasize tardiness, use “not until”:

1) “He only got there at noon.” (neutral)
2) “He did not get there until noon.” (lazy!)

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Language/Writing Tip 9

A few things to avoid in academic writing:

1) Do not italicize the comma after a list of titles – that is, italicize only the novel title, not the comma that follows. This is a minor point, but it takes forever for the lowly proofreader to correct.

2) Try not to advertise private companies: if you can avoid Amazon (and refer perhaps to Worldcat), Google (and say “an internet search”), etc., do so.

Such avoidance is, of course, often unavoidable, but keep it in mind.

3) The Oxford comma. If you use it, use it consistently: “ham, eggs, and coffee” on page 4 should not be “ham, eggs and coffee” on page 10 (especially if the same terms are repeated verbatim).

4) Discursive and substantive footnotes and endnotes. Keep ’em short.

(I will add some examples over the next few days.)

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Language/Writing Tip 8

This is less of a tip than food for thought.

Read this sentence aloud (slightly changed from a real, published example):

“And universities have similarly raised intellectual property concerns over ownership of the online courses their professors are now asked to assemble, indicating that ‘the future of their profession’ is at stake.”

The sentence is not gorgeous, which is excusable. It is needlessly difficult to understand, which is not excusable.

In class, I asked students to restore semantic order. The short but simple solution provided? “Add ‘that.'”

“And universities have similarly raised intellectual property concerns over ownership of the online courses THAT their professors are now asked to assemble, indicating that ‘the future of their profession’ is at stake.”

Much clearer and there’s no need to puzzle out the meaning.

NOTE:

This will be the last tip for a few weeks.

All tips for this year, as well as diploma thesis advice, are available at:

http://www2.arnes.si/~bjason/LW%20tips.pdf

You might also want to ponder:

http://www2.arnes.si/~bjason/LNW.pdf

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Language/Writing Tip 7

This will not be a stellar explanation, but here goes…

Often there is a comma missing before “with” – that is, in qualifying clauses or whatever they’re called.

Example:

“He went to sea with an oar as his sole companion.”

Clearer to my ear/eye:

“He went to sea, with an oar as his sole companion.”

Another, real example:

“It is also unregulated and mostly part of the grey economy with known breaches of worker’s rights.”

No.

“It is also unregulated and mostly part of the grey economy [COMMA] with known breaches of worker’s rights.”

Sometimes the comma-less “with” seems to aim at emphasis, as in:

“This is the total population of the Mediterranean with the Island of Sicily.”

How about?

“This is the total population of the Mediterranean, INCLUDING the Island of Sicily”?

Ask your grammar professors for a better explanation.
In the meantime, be vigilant!

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Language/Writing Tip 6

Language/Writing Tip 6

This funny-sounding combination pops up occasionally:
“As a future author, young Hemingway was an avid reader.”
or
“In her efforts to improve her writing, elderly Munro turned to the spellcheck.”
“young Hemingway” and “elderly Munro” sound dismissive.
More neutral: “the young Hemingway” and “the elderly Munro.”

Note:

All tips for this year, as well as diploma thesis advice, are available at:

http://www2.arnes.si/~bjason/LW%20tips.pdf

You might also want to ponder:

http://www2.arnes.si/~bjason/LNW.pdf

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Language/Writing Tip 5

I have lately had the un-pleasure of proofreading a number of academic articles.
I have come to hate the phrase “to shed some light on…”

A few examples:

a) “This paper aims to shed some light on immigration.”
b) “This paper strives to shed light on the movie industry.”
c) “This paper has as its purpose the shedding of light on academia.”

Dull, dull, dull. And we have to read on to figure out what the paper is actually about.

Using the replacement-test, we arrive at: “By turning on the lamp, I aim to shed light on the room…” Silly-sounding, but no less circular than the above examples.

There may be arguments for using “shed light on.” Keep in mind, however, that:
1) the phrase is overused to the point of cliché.
2) if the noun after “shed light on” is vague, the sentence is hardly illuminating. a, b, and c, do not provide a thesis.
3) the combination “aims to” or “tries to” or “strives to” with “shed light on” is almost always laughable.
4) What is “some light”?

…if you are specific, the phrase “to shed light on” is tolerable:

“This paper aims to shed light on the use of Form T-29a in regulating immigration.”
“This paper strives to shed light on the use of professional Slovenian soccer players in the movie industry.”

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Language/Writing Tip 4

“Rather” is rather annoying because it looks like it should be a verb:

“I would rather eat snake soup,” she said after he asked her out.

“Rather” is an adverb. It is not a verbal synonym for “to prefer,” which means that this sentence is wrong and torture to the eye or ear:

“I rather run away than fight you.”

“I would rather run away than fight you.”

In lieu of a lengthy explanation, use this rule of thumb:

When qualifying verbs, only use “rather” with “would.”

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Language/Writing Tip 3

“Express your most powerful thought in the shortest sentence” is pretty solid advice.

The above quotation is taken from:

Check it out. You will learn something. Or you might find the advice glib. But do consider it.

The advantage of short sentences for your main idea: no one will lose your thesis is a forest of other ideas.

The disadvantages: it can sound like brow-beating, a harangue or politicking. In other words, expressing complicated ideas in short, short sentences is often over-simplifying. Nobody can express nuance in a five-word sentence. As I hope to have shown in the “Check it out” series of sentences, a series of short sentences is death to rhythm.

On a side-note: keep your e-mails brief. If you want to ask me something, don’t hide the request within 150 words of fluff. Just ask. Be direct but not accusatory (stay tuned for more on this).

Also, check out last year’s series of language notes at:

http://www2.arnes.si/~bjason/LNW.pdf

101 English Tips: A Quick Guide to Avoiding “Slovenglish” is available at:

http://www2.arnes.si/~bjason/101%20Tips%20-%20BLAKE.pdf

and (in a groovy page-turning form) at:

NOTE THAT 70% OF STUDENT MISTAKES ARE EXPLICITLY COVERED IN THESE GUIDES.

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ENGLISH LANGUAGE OVERSEAS PERSPECTIVES AND ENQUIRIES: CALL FOR PAPERS

Darja Hribar, Professor of English and American Literature at the Faculty of Arts, University of Maribor, Slovenia, passed away in May this year. She was an accomplished scholar, a devoted teacher, an experienced literary translator, and, above all, a noble person. Apart from early American literature, her main areas of research and teaching were contemporary drama and theatre studies as well as literary translation, both from the point of view of literary stylistics. She was among the founding members of the Slovene Association for the Study of English. She participated in SDAŠ conferences and meetings and published in ELOPE. Her article about Harold Pinter in Slovene translation appeared in the first issue of this journal. To honour our colleague and friend, the Spring 2014 issue of ELOPE will be dedicated to her memory.
Submissions are welcome from all subject areas of English studies:
  • Linguistics
  • Literatures in English
  • Language Teaching
  • Translation
  • English for Specific Purposes (ESP)
  • and other related fields.
The papers should be sent as Word attachments to the following email address: tomaz.onic@um.si. For formatting and documentation, please refer to the notes for contributors available on the ELOPE web site (http://www.sdas.edus.si/elope.html). The submission deadline is 15 January 2014.
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Izzivi poučevanja in raziskovanja tujih jezikov stroke

Vabimo vas, da se udeležite konference SDUTSJ (http://www.sdutsj.edus.si/) z naslovom Izzivi poučevanja in raziskovanja tujih jezikov stroke.
Konferenca bo potekala 7.. februarja 2014 na Fakulteti za upravo (FU) Univerze v Ljubljani, Gosarjeva 5, Ljubljana, predavalnica P5.
Konferenca SDUTSJ je namenjena izmenjavi izkušenj in strokovnih znanj ter predstavitvi raziskav na področju poučevanja tujih jezikov stroke
v srednješolskem, višješolskem in visokošolskem izobraževanju. Konferenca predstavlja izvrstno priložnost za izmenjavo mnenj, zato vas vabimo, da sodelujete s svojim prispevkom, in o dogodku obvestite tudi kolege, ki bi jih srečanje zanimalo.
Več informacij: klik.
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