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Academic Speech

Any of you who read Book Briefing regularly will know that several of the books reviewed almost certainly started their lives as PhD theses. My admiration for most of the authors of them leapt recently when I attended a seminar hosted by the University of Alberta. Several what I took to be embryo theses were presented and questions were invited. I couldn't help noticing the contrast between the language used in the written papers and the language used to answer the questions posed. The English used in the papers was abstract, pompous and I suspect at times deliberately ambiguous. The answers given to questions were in clear English. This experience made me realise just what a good job the authors of the books had made of writing in plain English and dropping the convoluted gobbledegook apparently so much appreciated in the halls of academia.

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