Not all articles written on academic topics are written in proper academic English. In this "This is not academic writing" column we examine short excerpts from academic texts to illustrate common writing errors and explain how to correct them.
“Col. Aureliano Buendia is the Number 1 military guy in One Hundred Years of Solitude. That's not all, by any stretch. Author Gabriel Garcia Marquez also makes his character a neat artist, who makes pretty fish out of gold. But, to show the character is an emotional wimp, Marquez has Auerliano stop keeping the golden fish after he makes them. Instead, Auerliano melts down perfectly good fish and uses the gold for new fish. Why does he do this? I believe this is supposed to show Auerliano is a one-dimensional man, living in the here and now.”
The previous paragraph communicates clearly, but conversationally. It violates several recommended principles of academic writing. “Number 1 military guy” is a colloquial expression, as are “emotional wimp” and “perfectly good” and “here and now,” among others. Avoid such informal locution. “Neat” to describe “artist” and “pretty” to describe “fish” is hackneyed. Two sentences—beginning with “That's not…” and “Why does…”—are unnecessary transitional sentences that only add to the word count. Finally, “I believe this is supposed to show…” is a first-person formulation that is an opinion instead of an impersonal statement. The original version of the paper appears below.
这段文章看似清楚易懂，但如此会话的表达方式，已违反许多学术英文的撰写大忌。 “Number 1 military guy” 是口语的说法，其它像 “emotional wimp”，“perfectly good” 以及 “here and now”等等也是。再次叮咛勿使用非正式的惯用语，像是以“Neat”来形容“artist”，或是用“pretty”形容 “fish”，都是不合宜的。使用“That’s not…”以及“Why does…”这两句开头作为句首其实相当累赘，为求增加字数而以。最后的“I believe this is supposed to show…”纯粹是表达个人意见，并非客观公正的陈述。此段文章编辑润饰后内容，刊登如下。
“Col. Aureliano Buendia is the dominant military figure in One Hundred Years of Solitude. Author Gabriel Garcia Marquez also renders this character as a great artist, who counts among his creations beautiful fish crafted of gold. To convey the character's shallow emotional make-up , Marquez has Auerliano stop stockpiling the golden fish. Instead, Auerliano melts down each new batch of fish and uses the gold for a subsequent batch. He thus becomes a one-dimensional man, living only in the present.”