Professor Pedantic 教授的考究學問

The professor awaits your query on academic writing, though in all honesty, he doesn’t have a lot of time for you. He is a tenured full professor and working on yet another magnificent academic tome. Even so, he has graciously consented to entertain your question. Submit it and prepare to be edified.

QUESTION: I’ve been told that, if I use some big and long words, I will get a better grade. True?

Well, I suppose that depends on the professor grading your paper, doesn’t it? Every profession has its clunkers. Don’t count on your prof being seduced by ostentatious words—though, in all honesty, too many are. You did well in coming to me for an answer.
我相信,這應該是取決於你的教授給分數的標準,對吧! 每一個專業領域都有專業術語,別全盤接受你的教授講究艱深、華麗詞藻的影響,雖然,老實說,很多教授的確頗好此道。聰明的你既然來問我的意見,就讓我來給你一個答案吧!

I am curious: What is a big word? Is “doctorate” a bigger word than “doctor?” Yes, doctorate is comprised of more letters, but is it weightier? Which takes up more space in a room, a doctorate or a doctor? The size of a word is measured in its import, its relevancy, its relationship to the words surrounding it. Tell me, which word in the following sentence has the largest impact upon a reader: “Grandchildren gratefully die.” I would argue the shortest word in that sentence is a 20-pound hammer to the heart.
我很好奇,什麼叫做艱深的字? "doctorate" 比 "doctor"更有深度嗎? 的確,"doctorate" 包含較多的字母。然而,它在學術領域的權重夠份量嗎? "a doctorate" 與 "a doctor"那一個應該得到較多的尊重? 一個字的地位存乎於它本身的意義、關連性以及是否用字的精巧可貫穿全文主旨。你來試著說說看,下列的句子 “Grandchildren gratefully die”,以一個讀者的眼光,那一個字具有較大的影響力? 我會說,句中最短的字,將能重重的敲入我們的心,帶來極大的震撼。

In an academic paper, the heft of a word is measured in how forcefully the word conveys meaning. Appropriate word length is calibrated in how long the word echoes in the mind of the reader. So don’t use “humongous” if “big” will do. Don’t “illuminate” when “brighten” works as well. And, I might add, don’t just write the paper to “get a better grade.” Since you are going to the trouble of writing the paper, why not also try to learn something from the project?
在學術論文中,一個字的重要性取決於如何巧妙運用字本身的意義傳達作者的想法。所謂適宜的單字長度,植基於這個字在讀者心目中造成的回響與共鳴。換句話說,若"big"已足夠表達你的想法,就無須使用“humongous”;若“brighten”已能傳達你的本意,就無須使用 “illuminate”。有句話我想要再次叮嚀,不要以"得到好分數"的目的而寫論文,既然你將要面對寫作的挑戰,何不把它當成是藉由寫論文的過程,可學習一生受用的寫作技巧呢?

Posted at 2012-04-06 11:02:03

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