ACADEMIC USAGE

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ACADEMIC USAGE, also academic English. The REGISTER of English used by scholars and scientists: an elevated and often complex style associated with concern for accuracy, objectivity, and dispassionate comment, and characterized by: (1) Qualifying expressions such as at least, may, probably, under such conditions, usually. (2) Parenthetical asides, intended to modify, support, or otherwise affect statements: according to the date, apparently, as far as we can tell at this stage. (3) Passive constructions serving to minimize or remove personality: It was found that…, The data were analysed, When completed, the experiment was discussed. (4) Impersonal and non-dramatic (‘dry’) speech that may consist of reading a prepared paper (with or without extempore comments) or making extempore remarks supported by notes. Replies to comments and questions are often marked by pauses to rephrase a statement for the sake of precision and self-defence. Speakers may announce such rephrasing as they engage in it, using such formulas as that is (to say), …, or, more precisely …, Let me rephrase that so as to … Concern for precision sometimes leads to statements framed so as to cover every possible aspect of a topic, with detailed annotation full of supporting documentation in written work.

Academic writing generally makes use of such scholarly apparatus as introductions, provisos, disclaimers, acknowledgements, NOTES AND REFERENCES, BIBLIOGRAPHIES, and indexes. Such apparatus descends from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance and became more easily organized with the PRINTING of books and papers. For many lay people, academic usage is often rarefied and pedantic. It can intimidate and appear to be at odds with plain English. As a result, many regard it as acceptable in the ivory tower but impractical elsewhere. Many academics, however, see such a style as the proper and perhaps sole medium of rational expression, and dislike the implication that it can be used as a shield against the world. Extreme styles are pejoratively referred to as academese, such as: ‘Chieftaincy as a sanctional source, a symbolic referent, an integrational integer, and for ethnic and sub-ethnic definition, represents an orientational base for the charismatic persona’ (from a 1960s sociology paper). See SOCIOLOGESE.

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ACADEMIC USAGE

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