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Academic writing is classed

lissiem's picture

I am not unfamiliar to comments on my papers that say something along the lines of, "beautiful language, but what are you really trying to get at here?"  The notion of academic writing has really affected my own writing, to the point where sometimes I try to be so academic, it detracts from my paper.  I am always extremely aware of my choice of vocabulary and beautiful sentence structure.  For some reason, subconsciously, I tend to think, "if I just sound smart, they won't notice I really have no clue what I'm talking about." The sad part? A lot of times it works.  In this sense, academic writing is definitely classed.  Because of the education I've received and how I've grown up, I've learned to write well, even if what I'm saying is a load of nonsense. If academic writing were more about the ideas and less about how they are presented, things would be a lot different. 


lijia577's picture

In my writing class, our

In my writing class, our instructor explained the main purpose of academic writing.Written language is relatively more complex than spoken language. Written language has longer words, it is lexically more dense and it has a more varied vocabulary. Academic writing is relatively formal. In general this means that in an essay you should avoid colloquial words and expressions. In this way, it has fewer words that refer to the writer or the reader. This means that the main emphasis should be on the information. The main goal of academic writing to me is to make sense, which means that it could be potential boring and dull while it must be useful instead of being entertaining.

MVW1993's picture

Elissa, I really agree with


I really agree with you about the use of language in writing in general. Being able to write well and having an extensive vocabulary definitely affects the way that a piece is received by its intended audience and can definitely have some class connotations. Similarly, I think we can integrate this discussion of the use of language and how it defines class in our discussion of Little Bee as the use of language definitely plays a large role in this novel. For example, Little Bee's ability to speak English well, affects the way that others treat her, and it may be presumed that if she had not had this ability, she would have faced the type of prejudice that Yevette was confronted with when talking on the phone with the taxi-cab driver. Just some food for thought about another way in which language can be perceived as being classed in society.

snatarajan's picture

I really relate to this

I really relate to this comment because I feel like many times, regardless of how I think I want to portray an idea in my writing, I resort to "flowery" language to paint what I consider to be vivid pictures of my ideas. Instead, these words just get caught up in each other and end up saying... "a load of nonsense." For some reason, I feel like this was a style that I slipped into during my years in High School, and I am hoping to continue making a concious effort to just say what I mean, rather than having my main idea float in between many flowery, but empty phrases.

From this, I think you're right about academic writing being classed because it's these ideas from high school and whatever readings we've been told are academic that we get ideas of how our own writing should read. So I think the problem is really rooted in our/society's classification of what is considered academic writing. Maybe there is more academic value to being able to clearly and concisely express a thought without all the "beautiful" or "flowery" language  surrounding it.

meggiekate's picture

I'd had a very similar

I'd had a very similar experience to yours! Whenever I write a paper for school, I constanty use words and sentence stuctures I would never use in any other kind of writing or when speaking in or outside of the classroom. I think this has negatively affected the communication of my ideas/arguements in a paper. However it always seems like teachers approve of this style of writing more, which makes me feel like my ideas/arguements are more valid and certified in a way. At the same time, whenever someone speaks or writes in a very slang-y way, I'm always distracted by the way they speak and find it very difficult to concentrate on what they're trying to communicate. I know that my reaction is very classist, especially because I then feel the need to speak in more of a slang-style. This is because I want to appear non-classist and make sure that whoever I'm talking with understands what I'm trying to say, even though I don't normally speak that way and it's a very classist assumption I'm making that the other person wouldn't be able to understand a non-slang style of speech.

I'm curious as to what academic writing would look like if it "were more about the ideas and less about how they are presented." I think it's a shortcoming that we communicate primarily through language in academia. I know that whenever I have an idea, it doesn't usually exist in my mind in words but more in images, sounds, or emotions. I think it would be really interesting if we were able to express and communicate our ideas exactly the way that they appear in our minds instead of having to fit our ideas into our language. I'm not sure how this would be done exactly, but I think if that did happen, we would have more artistic and creative assignments take the place of academic papers.