Obtuse

In relation to “Maybe Yes, Peut-Être“, Neil Remington Abramson commented as follows:

You’d have to be a bilingual lawyer, with time on your hands, to figure this one out. Screens and screens of French followed by screens and screens of English translation. You gotta read it all to have any sense what it might be about. No summary. Still don’t know.

I assume it’s the legal mindframe. Lawyers think nothing of fine print. I think for them “fine” means “well-done”, whereas for the public it means “small” and difficult.

The academic mindframe, with its obtuse framing of simple ideas into mind-numbing jargon is no different, except we are required to offer an abstract, or summary, at the beginning of the article, to try to give some idea of what the thing is about.

Obscurist academics betray themselves, to the extent that if one reads their introduction, and then goes to the later part of the paper summarizing the research findings, one can figure out what they’re really on about. Then you go to the middle or wherever they put it, to check their methodology to see if one thinks they’ve done it “right”. So that’s all you need to read: front, mid-back (though conclusions are often useless), and method.

I was trained to try to write “clearly”, whatever that really means in practice, and for whom. I remember that when I started my consulting business, with a BA and MA in hand, it took me months to be able to write in ways my clients could be expected to understand easily. Academic writing was a handicap, compliments of higher education, that I had to overcome.

That’s why my assignments for my students require no great academic perambulations. I give them cases and basically get them to identify the real problems, potential solutions, the best solution, and how to get it to work. Even most of all of my many ESL students can do that, without mental gymnastics in a less familiar, non-native language.

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About brucelarochelle

http://www.lmslawyers.com/bruce-la-rochelle
This entry was posted in Administrative Law, Community of Scholars, Legal Issues, Tribunal. Bookmark the permalink.

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