This is not academic writing 學術文章不是這麼寫的
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.

Unacceptable 不被認可的文章

“The darling hummingbirds flew to the feeder and floated in the air above it, their wings fanning the evening air, their beaks sucking up sweet water. The ornithologist sat still on a nearby perch and counted how many visits to the feeder the birds made. He watched the water level in the feeder fall lower and calculated how much water was taken on by each tiny bird. After sitting more or less without moving for three hours, the bird-watcher shut down the screen on his laptop and said fare-thee-well to the little gang of migratory birds.”

This writer tried to be endearing. This is evident in the use of such words as “darling,” and such phrases as “the little gang” of birds. Endearment is not a virtue in an academic paper. Other flaws include the assertion that the scientist sat, bird-like, on a “perch.” More likely, it was a chair or stool. The writer says the birds were “sucking up”—a colloquial expression— “sweet water;” when in fact the water was “sweetened.” The scientist is said to have calculated how much each bird drank, which is unlikely because the birds cannot be individually identified. Rather, he calculated the amount of water consumed by an individual bird. The writer clearly was not precise in his description. Can you spot other weaknesses?
作者顯然想討人喜歡,從「darling」(小可愛)與「the little gang」(一幫小傢伙)等用詞就看得出來,但是學術文章不該裝可愛。另一個問題是形容科學家像鳥一樣,坐在「perch」(橫桿)上,但實際上他應該是坐在椅子或凳子上。文中又說鳥兒「sucking up」(喝)「sweet water」(甘甜的水),但前者太口語,後者應改為「sweetened water」(糖水);說科學家計算「each bird」(每隻鳥)喝了多少水,但不可能一一分辨每隻鳥,因此這說法也不對,而應該說他計算「an individual bird」(一隻鳥)喝了多少水。由此可見作者形容不夠精確。你是否還發現其他問題?

Acceptable 認可的文章

“The hummingbirds darted to the feeder and hovered above its lip, their wings a blur, their beaks delicately drawing from the pool of sugared water. The ornithologist sat unmoving nearby and counted the visits of each bird to the hanging feeder. He watched the level of the water in the feeder slowly drop and calculated from the measurable decline the volume of water taken on by an individual sipping bird. After sitting virtually motionless for three hours, the bird-watcher closed the screen on his laptop and bade goodbye to the menagerie.”

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