The Chronicle of Higher Education
September 26th, 2014
Together with wearing earth tones,
driving Priuses, and having a foreign policy, the most conspicuous trait
of the American professoriate may be the prose style called academese.
An editorial cartoon by Tom Toles shows a bearded academic at his desk
offering the following explanation of why SAT verbal scores are at an
all-time low: "Incomplete implementation of strategized programmatics
designated to maximize acquisition of awareness and utilization of
communications skills pursuant to standardized review and assessment of
languaginal development." In a similar vein, Bill Watterson has the
6-year-old Calvin titling his homework assignment "The Dynamics of
Interbeing and Monological Imperatives in Dick and Jane: A Study in
Psychic Transrelational Gender Modes," and exclaiming to Hobbes, his
tiger companion, "Academia, here I come!"
No honest professor can deny that there’s something to the stereotype. When the late Denis Dutton (founder of the Chronicle-owned Arts & Letters Daily) ran an annual Bad Writing Contest
to celebrate "the most stylistically lamentable passages found in
scholarly books and articles," he had no shortage of nominations, and he
awarded the prizes to some of academe’s leading lights.