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Sunday, 18 May 2008


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Belle Lettre

Aren't there academic-y words to deal with this? "One construction/position/conception is ____"..."Conversely, another" or "Contrapositively" or "Alternately" or...

You had a post on overused academic words. I know you did!


Oddly, the only way I could find it was remembering you'd posted a comment on it, so I did a Belle-specific site-search for it.

Karl Steel

One option is...but another possibility...
If we look at it this way....yet we should immediately reject such a stoopid approach; instead...
Well...yeah, but...

Or you can give arrange the ideas in play form:
IDEA 1 (hesitantly) : Well...
IDEA 2 (truculently): Yeah, but...

I guarantee if you keep it up this way, you *will* have no choice but to file in September!


One academic phrasing I really like but just can't seem to work into my writing for some reason would be the format: Situation Y is not X. Rather, it is a situation where Q...

I _do_ overuse the "not only ... but also" phrase that someone told me should be forcibly beaten out of all dissertating grad students.

Vance Maverick

It's good you're asking yourself this, but surely to ask it is to answer it. "True, X; but at the same time, Y." "X, as far as it goes, but of course Y." Vary according to context.


However, although, conversely, contrariwise, on the contrary, looked at from another angle, given that, but....

That's off the top of my head. Got a thesaurus?

Belle Lettre

My favorite academic words are changing. According to my boyfriend, I use "normative" a lot, and "heuristic." You should do another re-post.

I like your hand posts. Appaumy still cracks me up whenever I think of it, which I do whenever I tell my boyfriend to speak to the hand. So I am thinking you should just run with it and try to do more hand-puns in this chapter. It is your thing. In addition to "on the one hand," you should use "point the finger at" and "grasp the concept" and "dexterous argumentation" and somehow refer to dactylic hexameter.

Hi five, SEK!


Do you really need to signal the 'on the one hand' so much? I can't recall ever using it, and it seems a bit redundant to me: that is to say, so much academic writing involves 'on the one hand/on the other hand' arguments that it rarely seems necessary to spell it out. The reader is conditioned to be ready for the 'but/however'. (I sometimes throw in an 'on the other hand', without bothering with a foregoing 'on the one hand', when I start to get too bored with the buts and howevers.) OTOH, one construction that I do sometimes use if I feel some need to highlight something I'm about to contradict is: "To be sure..." But generally, I'd suggest taking a good hard look at all your 'on the one hands' and asking yourself whether they (or any substitute) are really needed at all.

Adam Roberts

'On the one testicle ... on the other testicle ...'


Yes, well, "testicles" or "ovaries" or perhaps "kidneys" would take care of it, if only such phrases could be plausibly brought into existence. Sadly, they cannot.

I'm with Sharon. I tend to over use "however," but I find that if reach for other phrases they clunk up, rather than clarify, my sentences.

If, on the other nipple, you choose to follow Belle Lettre's suggestion, you ought to try and work in the term "interdigitate." (ie -- "Twain's ideas of racial morphology interdigitates with his own hands-on experience of eugenic science.") One of our profs used the term reflexively about six years back, but has since slackened his grip upon it. I guess he found it...


Now that you've discovered the egregious pun, it seems to me that your only option is to make it even more egregious. A pun, after all, can't be ameliorated; it has to get worse before it can get better.

On the other hand, though...

Edward Williams

Likewise, I am sure.

Lloyd Mintern

"On the one hand", obviously, sets up a dichotomy, since we only have two hands. This is very restrictive in discussions which have three or more sides, upon which many points of view can be established. On the other hand, dichotomies encourage dialectical thinking, which keeps the discussion from getting . . . um, out of hand!

Naadir Jeewa

From a previous degree:

if (locusOfRacialDistinctiveness.getLocation() == fingertips)
{ ... }
elseif (locusOfRacialDistinctiveness.getLocation() == palm)
{ ... }

or perhaps, for elegance and brevity:

switch (locusOfRacialDistinctiveness.getLocation())
case fingertips:
case palm:

The first thing my compsci tutor said was "you're ability to write essays diminishes with each line of code"

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