Tuesday, April 2, 2013

It Can Thereby Be Proven That One... Should Talk Like a Normal Person


There is so much to love about academia - the challenge, the communities we serve, the commitment to growth - but there is one thing about this world that I absolutely loathe: academic speak. Pick up any academic journal, in library science or any other discipline, and you stand a good chance of seeing it. The third person pronouns, the passive verbs, the conditional language, and the fifty-cent words that get in the way of any kind of the meaning. I despise it all so much that, when I taught freshmen writing classes in the past, I went out of my way to pick topics where the academics in that field talk like people.

The thing is, I'm not the only one who feels this way. There are many essays, books, articles, etc., to which I could point that all make the same point: plain language is teh bestest. Just so you know I'm not fibbing about this abundance, here are two of my favorites (both of which are so good that they were assigned reading for the freshmen classes I taught):

I'm bringing this problem up here because of a book review I wrote that was published last week. The book itself was okay. It definitely had its issues, but there were also good bits. My big problem with the book is how the authors' adherence to academic conventions absolutely got in the way of readability. It's too bad, too, because the topic was so promising.

I'm not sure how to combat the problem of Academic Speak, other than writing as plainly as I can manage in my blog and, when I get the chance to do so again, influencing undergraduates to write that way, too. What do you all think?


  1. One place not mentioned in this piece that should feature normal, not academic, language: websites. In particular, your library website.