Monday, June 15, 2009

Academic English and Orwell

with regard to Academic English, from the text and a footnote of David Foster Wallace's "Authority and American Usage" found in *Consider the Lobster*:
"... in support of this total contempt and intolerance I cite no less an authority than Mr. G. Orwell, who 50 years ago had AE [Academic English] pegged as a 'mixture of vagueness and sheer incompetence' in which 'it is normal to come across long passages which are almost completely lacking in meaning.'" -->footnote: "This was in his 1946 'Politics and the English Language,' an essay that despite its date (and the basic redundancy of its title) remains the definitive SNOOT statement on Academese. Orwell's famous AE translation of the gorgeous 'I saw under the sun that the race is not to the swift' part of Ecclesiastes as 'Objective consideration of contemporary phenomena compels the conclusion that success or failure in competitive activities exhibits no tendency to be commensurate with innate capacity, but that a considerable element of the unpredictable must invariably be taken into account' should be tattooed on the left wrist of every grad student in the anglophone world." (p. 114-115)

point noted.

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