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

“Sima Qian's grand work, Records of the Grand Historian, brought together approximately 2,000 years of Chinese history. He did it so well that Sima continues to earn plaudits as a historian, and modern scholars generally substantiate his accounts. He traveled widely on behalf of the emperor, verifying ancient records and compiling current information for historians of today. Sima’s writing and powers of description were powerful, so his legacy is both in how well he wrote and how many records he preserved.”

The principal weakness of the paragraph above is imprecise or inappropriate word choices. For example, “approximately 2,000 years…” is vague. Authority is given an inexact span of years by describing it as “more than...” or “nearly,” as the case may be. To write that the ancient historian still earns “plaudits” (applause) is to compare him to a stand-up comic. Furthermore, Sima Qian didn’t compile “current” data for “historians of today.” The latest information he could get in 100 BC was “contemporary.” And to say he was a “powerful” writer is, well, weak. What other vague writing do you see?
這段文章的主要癥結在於,使用不精確與不適當的用詞。舉例而言,“approximately 2,000 years…” 過於模糊,其它像是 “more than...” 或 “nearly”這類語詞修飾時間,將影響句子的堅定與權威。聲稱這位古代史學家仍然贏得plaudits(掌聲)亦不妥,似乎拿他當成脫口秀演員看待。除此之外,司馬遷並未替“今天的史學家”收集“current(當今)”的資料。他在紀元前一百年收集的資料應該以“contemporary(當時)”一詞修飾才對。另外,只以powerful來形容這位作家的寫作實力,只能說真不夠力。你是否還發現了其他用詞不當的地方呢?

Acceptable 認可的文章

“Sima Qian's Records of the Grand Historian catalogued more than 2,000 years of Chinese history in a manner that continues to earn him respect as a historian. Modern scholars generally corroborate his accounts. As a functionary of the Han emperor, Sima traveled the nation, verifying records and compiling contemporary information for future historians. His prose and powers of description are vivid, his legacy both literary and historiographic.”

Posted at 2011-05-26 12:28:00

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