Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Vicious Cycle of the Official Style

            Capitalist countries are always concerned about how to make their way to the top of the “food chain.” There is a continuous and vicious cycle of individuals trying to show off talents and their acquired wealth. One way to discover the intelligence level according to our culture, is to examine their writing. The western countries in particular place a high value on being able to write piece that only those with the proper knowledge in that area are able to comprehend. I have examined an excerpt from Neighbourhood risk factors for Common Mental Disorders among young people aged 10–20 years: A structured review of quantitative research co-authored by seven separate people.
The article is aimed at those interested in learning more about contributing factors to common mental disorders in teens. Just by reading through the title, I knew I was going to embark on a journey deep into fascinating and thorough research. The language already being used is weeding out those not educated enough to be able to ‘understand’ the research that has been thus far discovered. Without prior knowledge of conducting research, readers would already be confused  in the introductory paragraph when the author says they are focusing on quantitative research, but take into account qualitative research as well. The author uses language such as “A structured review of quantitative research” and have already excluded those who do not understand these types of research paradigms. The question becomes, is this a bad thing? Is it right for people who have not been exposed to this type of language to not be able to connect with the findings of researchers and be left out of the conversation?
People who may be seeking out the outcomes of the research could be those who are predisposed to high-risk environments that are tested. This could help predetermine if their children, or they themselves will develop a mental disorder due to their surrounding environment. These people may be concerned about the risks they are exposed to and curious about the detrimental effects it could have on their family. The language of the article could quite easily confuse anyone who is not practiced in understanding the official style of academic writing.
            Academic writing is a hierarchy forever lengthening the gap between those who are highly educated and those who are not. Word choice and sentence structure is subjective to each author. Many academic articles contain multiple authors creating the need for compromise among each individual author. Sentences such as:
These question whether more should be done to protect them from risks they may face in their local communities during the life stage when they become increasingly independent of their parents and begin to experience their neighbourhoods through independent, unsupervised activities as well as through more ‘structured’ activities managed by adults.
This excerpt uses repetition to add emphasis with the word independent. It also uses slow sentence openings to prolong what the sentence is implying.
Also, this one sentence has 51 words. Whether this is due to the authors wanting to sound more intelligent or compromise among the authors, 51 is an absurd amount of words for something that could have been dealt with more concise manner. The main point of this sentence is to question whether or not adolescents should be watched more carefully when they begin to venture out and play without parental supervision. They are gaining their independence from their parents and discovering themselves. The authors are only questioning whether or not kids today are getting too much freedom to early.
            The authors also mention having more ‘structured’ activities managed by adults. This sounds as if the young adults at question are partaking in activities that are inappropriate. Since the study in question is concerning young adults with common mental disorders, it may in fact not be the activities that are creating these issues, but the actual mental disorders themselves. By wording the sentences like this, it helps to create a more concrete argument that without more ‘structured’ activities common mental disorders are likely to develop.  Without more supervised activities, the adolescents are at risk. It uses language to give the impression that these risky activities are leading to an increase in mental disorders. Although, the authors do later recognize the other variables contributing and do not claim a direct correlation, they do state:
More extensive and sophisticated use of longitudinal study designs is necessary to help to disentangle the complex and reciprocal causal pathways involved in the links between ‘neighbourhood’ risk factors and adolescent CMDs, which develop over the lifecourse, starting before adolescence.
The authors again use proper language to say their results are not conclusive and more evidence is needed to make a concrete claim. This section contains the counterargument to their hypotheses, which is possibly why the author chooses to use even more complex language than before. There are “be” verbs and sentential adverbs. The author uses more redundancy along with another slow sentence opener. This article is a perfect example of the official style because it has continuous examples.
            The language used in this text is sophisticated and intended for an audience that practice in this particular field. Academic writing used jargon such as ‘to disentangle the complex and reciprocal causal pathways involved’ to sound more credible. The sacrifice this makes is excluding the general population from reviewing this information with an understanding of what they authors are trying to say. The issue becomes is it ethical establish credibility while simultaneously relinquishing the average person the opportunity to expand their own knowledge. Is this the way that academic writing should be? Should we praise those who can make such complex sentences that a majority of the audience who reads it can barely understand it? This is the type of behavior that is expected in academic writing and wanted from professors and teachers alike. Our culture seems to want to lengthen the gap between those more highly educated than others.
            Is there a way to overcome the vicious cycle of academic writing? Is it something to be concerned with? If those who are writing the pieces don’t have the power to change their writing style, who does? The authors must write in the official style so they have the chance of being published and respected by their peers. One of the few ways an author can establish credibility is by using the extensive language of the official style, but is there a way to overcome the official style and create a new kind of style that doesn’t exclude other audiences, is considered credible, and creates a unity of all types of readers?

Kelsey Jackson

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