What’s another word for “Gah”?

SEK: What you have here is a solid B+ paper. You need to elevate your diction if you want to convince me that this is an A.

STUDENT: So I need to sound more academic?

SEK: Yes.

STUDENT: So I need to predicate the logic of my arguments on rhetorical substance of the visual nature of the dynamic?

SEK: Come again?

STUDENT: If I accentuate the propositional strength of my argumentative units –

SEK: What are you doing?

STUDENT: Convincing you to give me an A?

SEK: Don’t be that guy.

49 comments on this post.
  1. C.S:

    Kid deserves an “A”. At least by the terms you laid out. If you wanted him to write a better paper you should have told him he needed to sound less academic, not more.

  2. SEK:

    That’d make him a better writer, generally speaking, but not a more successful academic. You need to speak the same language as the professors to please them, after all.

    But in this case, it’s a changing informal phrases like “right away” into their more formal equivalents, like “immediately.”

  3. SEK:

    And before Freddie asks, this post places me to the left of Scott and the right of Loomis, I think. (Sorry, those threads about political purity that lump the lot of us together confuse me. Or maybe they just make me feel left out. Where’s my unwarranted opprobrium, damn it?)

  4. Julian:

    what about “instantly?”

    I know you need to speak the lingo to get a job, and jobs justify many evils, but if you don’t teach them to write well now then when will it happen?

  5. SEK:

    Works for me. A+!

  6. Murc:

    I’m with C.S on this. Kid demonstrated on the spot he has a mastery of academic diction. Heck, in the link you even lament “Why must charges importune their prose with exorbitant diction?”

    He gave you what you wanted.

  7. Leeds man:

    What’s an argumentative unit? Can it be in mks or cgs?

  8. ploeg:

    The unit is ilk (impertinent little kid).

  9. Patrick:

    Newtons. At least as a unit to end an argument.

  10. Sammy:

    So off went the Emperor in procession under his splendid canopy. Everyone in the streets and the windows said, “Oh, how fine are the Emperor’s essays! Don’t they fit him to perfection? And see his long words!” Nobody would confess that he couldn’t see any meaning, for that would prove him either unfit for his position, or a fool. No essay the Emperor had worn before was ever such a complete success.

    “But he hasn’t got anything on,” a student said.

    “Did you ever hear such innocent prattle?” said SEK.

  11. Hogan:

    Hey! Let’s keep it clean here.

  12. sparks:

    what would I get for anon or instanter?

  13. expatchad:

    Hertz or Decibels.

  14. Michael H Schneider:

    Saying “elevate your diction” when what you mean is ‘use formal rather than informal language’ is a perfect example of precisely what’s wrong with your position.

    You’re trolling your own blog, aren’t you?

  15. Warren Terra:

    You should have told him his response was perfectly cromulent.

  16. Warren Terra:

    Is said kid named RAY ALLEN, perchance?

  17. Warren Terra:

    I assume you’re talking about ending the argument through the application of force? It’s been an awful long time since I took freshman physics, but I think your units are missing a time factor, ie how rapidly those Newtons are delivered unto the victim (apparently, this quantity is a yank).

  18. Warren Terra:

    Are you saying your opprobrium is unwonted but not unwanted?

  19. wengler:

    Fuck, man. I would’ve just taken the B+.

  20. Andrae:

    Personally I prefer “with alacrity.”

    It must be said, for crimes against the English language, “If I accentuate the propositional strength of my argumentative units –” surely must require retribution.

  21. Lasker:

    To be fair you ought to have specified whether it was the diction of his paper or of his grade-grubbing that needed to be elevated. I thought his response hedged this issue rather nicely.

  22. Barry Freed:

    Whatever happened to “eschew obfuscation”?

  23. NonyNony:

    Kid demonstrated on the spot he has a mastery of academic diction.

    No, the kid demonstrated on the spot that he has a passing familiarity with the academic practice of throwing up a word cloud the way a squid throws up a cloud of ink to slink away unseen.

    Yes many academics do this. No, it is not something that should be rewarded.

    Yes it is rewarded by many peer reviewers who read such word clouds and are bizarrely impressed by them instead of printing them out, scrawling “for the love of GOD MAKE IT STOP” on the print outs in their own blood, and mailing them back to the authors. I’ve been told that doing this would violate the anonymity of peer review and that filling out the online form is always better, but I’m not sure they get the point of just what a sin against the sharing of knowledge this kind of crap is without the blood.

  24. BigHank53:

    The original unit was the whineon, but it turned out to be much too small for practical use. 10,000 whineons make a git.

  25. njorl:

    Let’s all just be happy the kid didn’t take it as a veiled request for sexual favors.

  26. wetcasements:

    When I taught freshmen comp as a grad. instructor we were reminded that our job was to get students writing in as clear and jargon-free a style as possible.

    Telling a kid to “write more like an academic” sounds like a recipe for disaster.

  27. wetcasements:

    That was my first thought as well.

    This isn’t a graduate student symposium on Judith Butler, it’s freshmen comp. Clarity above all else.

  28. Leeds man:

    Oh right. And 1 git=142.0653125 Imperial prats.

  29. stibbert:

    srsly, the interaction between SEK & CAT in the package-tape scene had more educational value.

    Can STUDENT be nudged towards a career in packaging? Will there be video of his/her apprenticeship w/ the Electric Stapler?

  30. The Lorax:

    A student writes like this and she loses points with me. But I’m in philosophy.

  31. Manju:

    SEK: Don’t be that guy.

    Yeah…Be this guy instead.

  32. Dave:

    Stat?

  33. Book:

    Is this from an American spin-off of Yes Minister!?

  34. Hogan:

    “Counterpoint the surrealism of the underlying metaphor” . . . Death is too good for them.

  35. Manta:

    I would say clarity above all else should always be the rule.

  36. rea:

    Clarity above all else? No, that won’t work–people might understand what you are trying to say, and then where would you be?

  37. NonyNony:

    YES! That is the reference that was at the back of my brain and it just wouldn’t step forward and take its place at the front.

    Thank you, my good sir. You are a hoopy frood.

  38. Bill Murray:

    hippie punched

  39. Bill Murray:

    it might be unWarrented

  40. Bill Murray:

    Newtons have time in the unit — it is mass multiplied by acceleration

  41. Bill Murray:

    you British and your British whingeing units

  42. Warren Terra:

    Sure, but you still need to know how rapidly the quantity of force is applied. It’s the difference between a warm hand gently resting on your shoulder for a time and a wallop to the shoulder: same amount of force, different speed of delivery.

  43. Brandon C.:

    I was always annoyed when we had to read the works of professor’s who wrote like this in the Classics. I don’t care about big words but if I can’t even understand your point because of your diction there is an issue…

    Simpler is always better. As long as it reads like a paper and not a text message.

    I remember one professor always telling us, “Nouns and verbs. Nouns and verbs.”

  44. Kristin:

    Greatest comment ever.

  45. Richard Hershberger:

    “With celerity” is even better. “In a celeritous manner” is perhaps a bit too much.

  46. N__B:

    That sounds like a fancy way of saying “heighten the contradictions.” You’re asking for trouble…

  47. chris y:

    A or B+, the kid won and you lost. And you know it. Your department should now get up a collection to buy you a tweed jacket with leather patches on the elbows, and throw a sherry party to welcome you to the club.

  48. Bill Murray:

    the angle of the dangle is proportional to the elevation of the diction?

  49. NBarnes:

    I think the kid’s earned an A-. Their extemporaneous editing seems completely convincing.

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