74. Academic Gibberish

Someone posted this link on facebook:
De-schooling doctor Baburam Bhattarai by Suman Khadka

“His wisdom is difficult to ascertain because his writings are abstract. Neither have many of us have read his PhD thesis or his books, which I find far too incomprehensible, even though I don’t consider myself stupid… But it is precisely such writing and rhetoric that succeed in creating a feeling of intellectual inferiority among others…”

Sadly, it’s not just the politician who love this style. It’s the people in the academia as well. It is also full of super intellectual people who write and talk in a style which I like to label as ‘intellectual garbage’. I have HAD to read piles of research articles by Nepali writers published on various ‘educational’ journals and most of those articles would always leave me scratching my head. Their articles are too intellectual for me to understand.

Why do these intellects write in such dense and complex style? Is this because of ‘academic peer pressure’ or is this because of desire to prove oneself better? Why do they forget the power of simplicity?

I don’t want to post links of such articles because I’m sure I will be shredded into pieces by these intellects and their cohorts. Before I speak up my mind, I have to worry about being ostracized. We don’t have a culture of taking comments positively. They will probably smug me saying “over janney bhayo” or “sano manche bhayera thulo kuro garyo“. So, I’m going to shoot the arrow in the dark. But, I’m hoping that the message gets across to them. 

One of my friends labels this as “Classic ESL disease”. Similar to journalese and legalese, I would like to call these academic gibberish are “Nepali ESLese”. But I take a stance against this egoistic belief that “the more it is difficult to understand your discourse, the more intellectual you are”. I will (try to) walk down the Orwellian path.

(i) Avoid using metaphors, similes, or other figures of speech which you are used to seeing in print. Think of fresh ones wherever you can.
(ii) Prefer short words to long ones.
(iii) Try cutting a lot of your word-count, especially those words that add little extra meaning.
(iv) Don’t over-use the passive voice. And whether passive or active, be clear who did what to whom.
(v) Prefer everyday English to foreign, scientific or jargon words.
(vi) Good writing is no place for the tyrant. Never say “never” and always avoid “always”, or at the least handle them with care. Overusing such words is an invitation for critics to hold you to your own impossible standard. (Source)


6 thoughts on “74. Academic Gibberish

  1. I guess the biggest reason for the way they write the way they do is because they can.. personally, I would love to write like them but cannot because I cannot, at least not yet!

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