Thursday, March 8, 2012


In his article  "Language Crimes: A Lesson in How Not to Write"
<>  Dennis Dutton makes fun of the typical academic style that so many scholars use in their papers.

What do you think of this topic - and the typical "Academese" that seems to spread like a disease?

Thanks for you comments,



  1. Personally, I find academese quite comical. It feels like those scenes in a cartoon where someone scribbles tons of incoherent equations on a black board to demonstrate their intelligence. The problem with this in real life is that people actually need to know what you are talking about. In that sense, academese is quite disruptive to everyone's collective learning since it tries to inflate the stature of the writer more than it communicates a subject. Though Dutton's examples were fairly extreme, it's clear that there is nothing positive about writing that intentionally hides its meaning from the reader.
    It seems kind of silly that there are people who try to write like this, pushing the reader to concede to a false sense of ignorance when there wasn't much to understand in the first place. To contrast this, when people turn really complex ideas into those that the reader can understand, something productive is being done. This because they are helping people grasp the concepts required for the reader to join in on the discussion and push the idea forward. On the other hand, academses does the opposite by placing concepts out of reach of others so that the idea can stay untouched. Kind of selfish if you ask me.
    Overall, academses is just plain unpleasant to read, which is enough reason for most people to become disinterested for what the writer is trying to say.

    John Chen

  2. I totally agree that the typical academic style is not fun to read at all. In my opinion, writing is a form of communication so what's the point if what you write does not make any sense to the reader? Writing with academese does not show intelligence. Writing with academese just confuses the students who are trying hard to analyze and extract information from your text. Of course, I recognize that university students will tend to lean towards this style of writing but that is because that is all they're exposed to at school. Students often don't realize that they have caught the horrid disease of academese because it is the norm to them.

  3. I enjoyed reading Dennis Dutton's article on "Academese". It is a topic that I have thought about in my head many times but reading a written version by a professional journalist was quite interesting. I believe that there is a purpose behind 'jargon-clogged' academic essays with confusing academic prose. Although these essays use unnecessarily complex vocabulary that ends up confusing the reader, it looks professional and structured. However, I also believe that everyone has a tone of voice, and that our voice should be reflected on the work we complete. The problem with Academese is that there is no place for unique tone of voice. It is just simply groups of jargon and letters put together in a grainy shade of gray. There must be a reason behind why students cannot stand reading textbooks for hours although it is not the level of difficulty that stops them. From a personal experience, I tend to struggle with my economics course (unfortunately it is a requirement for my degree). It is not the idea and the theory that gets me confused, but the way textbooks explain these theories that fries my brain. However, my older brother introduced me to a blog where a past econ student posts detailed notes on economics. Each blog entry is about a page long and it covers one whole chapter of economics. I got better grades on my exam because of this blog. This just goes to show that bad academic writing only confuses, and loses people's attention.

  4. I found this article by Denis Dutton quite interesting. I had a teacher in high school who had been published a few times in a History journal, and so he exposed my class to the long winded style of 'Academese'. Luckily he did not uphold it as how we should write, and although he did not pole fun of it like Dutton has, he spoke of it as a means to be published, but it bothers me that authors would compromise their writing to be published! The examples Dutton chose were well picked. I gave up by the end of the first sentence, which I am sure illustrates his point. I haven't had any classes yet here at UBC where this has been relevant, as besides english I am in math and physics courses, which although are equally confusing, require their jargon. However, because of these classes I know the feeling that many must have of reading something, and rereading it, all to only have a bit of understanding. Tom Clancy once said something that really illustrates what Dutton seems to be feeling: “I do not over-intellectualize the production process. I try to keep it simple: Tell the damned story.”