Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Confusion on Contracts: Bureaucratic Style Critique

Margaret N. Kniffin, the author of  “Conflating and Confusing Contract Interpretation and the Parole Evidence Rule: Is the Emperor Wearing Someone Else’s Clothes?” is a professor of Law at St. John’s University School of Law. Her article, written for the Rutgers Law Review, was intended for an audience who is interested in political science and economics. Moreover, those who are interested in understanding the confusing aspects between “contract interpretations with the parole evidence rule.” She laments about the “injustices that occurs in the courts, as well as, eminent scholars” in drafting and designing these documents. This sounds like a noble cause, and through her prose style creates a piece that has reasonable readability scores. (See Table 1) However, in attacking others for verbose definitions, she inadvertently uses the official style and fails in bringing any greater comprehension to the issue. Kniffin writes a piece, influenced by bureaucratic prose, to appeal to academic standards of scholarly research.
Her first strategy is to provide clarification on the issue of contract law and the parole evidence rule. Confusingly, she introduces her essay with extended metaphors and confusing images. One reoccurring motif seen in her article is that of the Emperor and his new clothes. She uses that story to bolster her definitions of contracts and parole rule. However, she takes a spin on the story and adds a co-protagonist. She describes both an emperor and an empress.
            “Let us assume that the Emperor and an Empress share power equally. Each one     can         represent, therefore, either contract interpretation or the parole evidence rule,   two currently and historically distinct concepts...”
It’s essentially the same childhood story, but with a twist. Both individuals or concepts act in the manner of the original protagonist of the story. This extended metaphor is not needed. It is a stylistic choice that creates unneeded confusion. Would the “average American reader” understand that references? Yes, her intended audience would, but others would not. Essentially, if the reader doesn’t understand the metaphor, the rest of the essay is useless.
            Evidence of official style elements rears its ugly head throughout Kniffin’s essay. In this piece, this strategy is used to establish ethos, and satisfy an unwritten law of academic writing. This law states: the only way to sound intelligent is to write using high-grade word choice. An example from the text is: “Those courts that have conflated or interchanged the two processes have, as a result, in many instances excluded evidence that otherwise would have been admitted or, conversely, admitted evidence that otherwise would have been excluded – thereby producing injustice.” Simply put this quote says: “From time to time, the court has confused contraction interpretation with the parole rule.” Using the official style adds two times as many words, leading to more chance of confusion. In this example, a sentential adverb, unneeded modifiers, and unneeded coordination aid in bringing misunderstanding.  Ironically, her purpose is to bring understand, however, within her prose she uses euphemism and jargon that confuses readers. The expected use of the bureaucratic prose style, in academia, shrouds the simplicity of this meaning in a verbose sentence.
Academia clings and praises the bureaucratic prose style. This can be seen through Kniffin’s excessive use of this style of prose. She uses this style because as a member of this community, she must project this ethos. Academia primarily uses official style to convey credibility, intelligence, and superiority upon its audiences. In acknowledgement, her intended audience is not the mythical “average American reader.” Rather the activity system most active and influential in her audience is one born and christened in the art of the official prose style. Caught in a conflict between individuals who expect her to write one way, and her goal off bringing enlightenment on the issue, she concedes to the former. As an academic scholar writing for a Law Review, certain elegance is expected in word choice, diction, and overall syntax. Through use of this style she alienates other readers. Specific, and learned strategies of the official style are evident in Kniffin’s essay as well. These learned strategies are byproducts of expected academic work. In appealing to this intended audience, she causes a dissonance with other activity systems. Communities of individuals who seek knowledge on the issue, “average American readers” and, arguably those who even hold prerequisite knowledge still leave unsatisfied. At what point does one criticizes her own crusade as being ironically the same thing she despises.
Academia is a huge proponent of the official style, however, intentional confusion is not part of the ideals. Greater specialization in academia breeds specific and obscure words. These specific and obscure words are then used in essays and other academic texts. In certain instances these specific words are needed. However, in other instances it inhibits understanding. In some instances this strategy is imperative, however in the vast majority it is not. Reaffirming journals, which only accept bureaucratic style, feeds this mentality. In the end, the bureaucratic style remains because it symbolizes intelligence and specialization. Kniffin, in her essay is appealing to these roles. False myths affirm that authority figure must articulate in this capacity. She does not understand that the use of this language is not needed. Greater understanding would be achieved by using a simpler strategy. This would truly result in truly bringing understanding to the parole evidence rule and contracts.

Table 1. Readability Statistics for Kniffin Text
Unit of Measure
Flesh-Kincaid Reading Ease
Flesh-Kincaid Grade Level
Smog Index
Average Grade Level
Words per Sentence

E. Clyford

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

True Life: Official Style on Research Articles

The official style can be used in many different places. But, seeing as my college life is being consumed with Communication Studies research articles I decided to see how the official style is being used. In my college career I have skimmed through countless numbers of research articles, proposals, literature reviews, abstracts, and method sections. I chose to focus on a literature review written by Chen, Yea-Wen, and Masato Nakazawa who constructed a research project on self-disclosure in an intercultural and interracial friendship from the perspective of the social penetration theory done by Altman and Taylor (1973). Choosing fragments of the literature review to break apart in order to investigate the official style format was not easy. Social penetration theory is interesting and technically very easy to understand but Altman and Taylor did not write it as so. Before actually looking at the text, I was interested to see where this article was published.
       The Journal of Intercultural Communication Research, at first glance seems to be in official style but there needs to be more research done in order to determine that it is legitimate. The editor is Stephen M. Croucher from the University of Jväskylä, Finland and the assistant editors are Tina Harris, University of Georgia, USA, Eric Kramer, University of Oklahoma, USA, and Ramune Braziunaite, Bowling Green State University, USA. Professor Croucher is a member of many communication journals and also the editor of Speaker and Gavel a National Honorary Forensic Society. With the information acquired the Journal of Intercultural Communication Research is a true journal that strives to better understand interrelations between culture and communication. With the background of the journal complete, I began asking myself some questions about the text and its purpose for existing.
            After reading the literature review I was able to pick out some of the official style. To begin, we can see that this passage speaks to people in the communication field and professionals.

     The theoretical framework guiding the present study is Altman and Taylor’s (1973)
     Social penetration theory since it provides the linkage between self-disclosure and
     friendship development. The goals underlying Altman and Taylor’s (1973) development
     of social penetration theory were both to describe the course of growth or
     dissolution of interpersonal relationships and to address the issue of how people
     enact mutual exploration and formation of social bonds. In essence, Altman and
     Taylor (1973) explicated the roles of self-disclosure, intimacy, and communication
     in the development of interpersonal relationships.
     The authors chose to use communication jargon such as social penetration, self-disclosure, and mutual exploration. While these words are not hard to look up in the dictionary there is no need to if you are part of the communication circle. Seeing as the writing is directed for  people who are interested and/or study Intercultural Communication there is a need for jargon and it is used correctly.
     The next question: was it written to establish credibility and expertise or to alienate readers? It was probably written to establish credibility and expertise but not to alienate the readers. And also to build legitimate knowledge. This next section answers those questions.
     However, it has not been examined if the assumed gratification of self-disclosure is applicable to different cultures; thus, it warrants examination of the social penetration process in cross-cultural and intercultural relationships such as friendships.
      We can see that use of jargon again with more complicated sentences than one would see in a newspaper article. Journals require a higher writing capability than most public writing because not many "random" people pick it up. The audience is interested and somewhat knowledgeable therefore they can write to establish credibility and expertise. This article was also done to build knowledge on the topic. I know this because this journal has a call for papers, meaning they want a certain part further explained or discovered in order to better understand that situation or circumstance.
     After answering those questions, it is important to check if the official style context is used. In this writing the authors used the unspeakable and complex sentences to conjure up an official style.
            One part of the official style is looking at the words written. For example, in a media writing class the writer is writing for the ear not the eyes because the writing will be spoken out loud and then heard only once. The official style writes for the eyes fully understanding that it will or may be read over a couple of times before fully comprehending what is on the page.

Social penetration theory deconstructs and organizes personality structure into two general dimensions. The first is an area-based dimension of breath with not only breadth category but also breadth frequency. The second is a central-peripheral dimension of depth that starts at peripheral layers associated with biographical characteristics and moves toward central layers associated with less observable and more idiosyncratic characteristics.

            As a reader, just try saying these three sentences out loud without stuttering nor stopping. It may be possible but if you were speaking it to another person it would not be understandable. That is the exact point that the official style is trying to make and it is embedded in this piece of writing.

            The last part of the official style that is demonstrated in this research paper is about complex sentences. This can range from large words, to very lengthy sentences, and also the use of certain punctuation marks. Here we can see all three of the different criteria for being a complex sentence.

In essence, the overlapping dimensions of verbal, nonverbal, and environmental behaviors result in eight generic dimensions of the social penetration process: richness-breadth of interaction; uniqueness of interaction; efficiency of exchange; substitutability and equivalency; synchronization and pacing; permeability and openness; voluntariness and spontaneity of exchange; and evaluation.
            Throughout the research article there was official style embedded in every sentence and word trying to keep in check of what is wanted and needed. I chose a research paper with the idea in mind of it containing the official style but I did not know it was to this extent.  The different sentence structures, complex words, jargon, all while thinking about the activity system used makes this research paper official style
-Stephanie Cuevas

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Official Style: A Foundation for a Nation

          The official style has been the basis of professional writing in our country for many years, so long that it has become the norm for most people when deciding how to present their ideas credibly in an organizational atmosphere. For that reason, I decided to choose the U.S. Constitution as my text for my critique of the official style. The Constitution has stood the test of time as an effective official document, and it contains many of Richard Lanham’s Elements of the Official Style, even though it predates his ideas by hundreds of years.
To exemplify the extent of the official style in the Constitution, I decided to choose Amendment XII ( - 12), which was passed by Congress in 1803. Basically, this section of the Constitution deals with electing the President and Vice-President. Things like casting ballots and what to do in the event where no majority is reached or if the President were to die. When stated plainly, these ideas are quite simple. However, when implemented in official style, a large transformation occurs. With a Flesch-Kincaid Reading ease sore of -4, a an average grade level of 28.3, and 81.8 words per sentence, the 12th Amendment is riddled with verbose language and complex sentences, making it almost unspeakable. Take the idea of casting ballots and selecting a President; all that really needs to be stated is something to the degree of marking an “x” next to your choice for President and Vice-President, counting the ballots, and naming the winner. The official style and our founding fathers state it this way,
The Electors shall meet in their respective states and vote by ballot for President and Vice-President, one of whom, at least, shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves; they shall name in their ballots the person voted for as President, and in distinct ballots the person voted for as Vice-President, and they shall make distinct lists of all persons voted for as President, and of all persons voted for as Vice-President, and of the number of votes for each, which lists they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the seat of the government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate; -- the President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates and the votes shall then be counted; -- The person having the greatest number of votes for President, shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed; and if no person have such majority, then from the persons having the highest numbers not exceeding three on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President.
Keep in mind this is all one sentence, glued together by multiple prepositional phrases and complex diction, using two hundred and four words to communicate what could be said in fewer than fifty words. While sounding highly official and credible, the passage is quite shapeless, and the multiple ideas crammed into one sentence are slowly introduced one after one, imitating a list. The diction in the sentence is not even that jargonistic, however the fact that it is so verbose and bureaucratic makes it a challenging read-over. The uneven rhythm of the sentence also makes it difficult to follow; it seems like there are many suitable places for a period within the sentence, yet the passage just keeps stumbling on and on, either pieced together by prepositional phrases, or clauses that begin with “and”. The abundance of commas in the sentence makes the flow lackadaisical and renders passage almost impossible to read aloud. Just imagine sitting in a hot wooden room with no air conditioning, listening to someone drag on two hundred some word sentences. I’ve got to give credit to our founding fathers; they definitely were some tough individuals to endure that.
            Given the fact that this is a government document, it is not out of place that the official style was implemented to such an extent, and for the purpose of being as thorough and organized as possible, I believe the Constitution works well within the governmental activity system. Even today, amendments are written very similarly to predeceasing government documents such as the Constitution.  Complex and verbose sentences are the basis of government writing, and it is all for the purpose that whoever reads it will view it as organized and credible; ultimately trusting whatever is being stated. The official style plays greatly into the government’s hand when setting the stage from a rhetorical standpoint. Even though the Constitution is not a persuasive document so to speak, the implementation of official style throughout it creates a notion of power. When I read the Constitution, I look at it and think to myself that the government has everything well thought out and in order. The way that it is crafted just makes it seem like everything imaginable that could happen in the government has been accounted for. Now obviously this isn’t true, seeing as our current government, which is supposed to follow the ideals of the Constitution, cannot even function. I firmly believe however that if someone was unaware of our problems with our government and only had our Constitution to base their judgment off of, they would believe that the American Government was a well-oiled fully functioning machine; and I think that is exactly how our founding fathers wanted the image of our government to come off as.
The U.S. Constitution brilliantly communicates the façade of a well-organized, highly structured and intelligent nation, when in all reality there are many issues under the surface. The ability to cover up the inadequacies of our government is key to our nation’s success, and we owe it all to our founding fathers and their choice of using the official style.

M. Walters

Hands Tied: Politicians, the Public, and Energy Drinks

Many swear by them, while others swear that they’re no good. Energy drinks have been controversial since they hit the market. This article focuses on a letter, written by Richard Blumenthal, Richard Durbin, and Edward Markey, to Mark Emmert President of the NCAA, regarding the sale of Energy drinks at collegiate sporting events. The official style is clear in the letter, as the congressmen shields the fact that they are scolding Emmert by euphemizing his explanation of his reason for writing. The letter is also is very bureaucratic, passive, and verbose to further mask what is essentially a reprimand.
I accessed the article via Blumenthal’s government webpage where it is presented with a short introduction under “Press Release.” This press release section of the website is filled with accounts of the actions of Blumenthal’s actions as Senator. Whether this methodical documentation of actions and letters and announcements is required or by choice it certainly sheds light on the intentions behind elements of style which we see in letters like the one in question. Having your business as public as politician do certainly warrants caution regarding the tone of writing and how letters like this one are perceived not only by the recipient of the writing but also any constituents who read the piece. When the senators wrote the letter to Emmert they would have not only been concerned about offending the president of the NCAA but also hurting chance of re-election or prospects for other political opportunities.
The first four words of the letter set the tone for the entire message. “We write to inquire,” it begins, immediately setting a non-threatening tone. These four words not only make the senators’ message seem non-harmful; they also start the letter off in the proper and bureaucratic language you would expect to hear from senators. The letter continues to explain that the senators are inquiring as to what actions Emmert “is taking or contemplating to educate student-athletes and school athletic departments about the potential health risks posed by energy drinks for young people and to limit the presence of energy drinks at NCAA sponsored events.” This is where the senators essentially euphemize the intent of their letter. It is clear that their opinion is that energy drinks have no place being marketed at NCAA sporting events, however it is not clear whether or not this is Emmert’s opinion, and the fact that a nearly identical letter was sent to the Executive Director of National Federation of State High School Associations it can be assumed that this letter was not only sent to inquire as to what actions Emmert planned to take, but in fact to persuade him that there were indeed actions that needed to be taken.
The letter goes on to discuss the downfalls and health risks associated with energy drinks which would serve to persuade the reader, Emmert, to take actions to limit their availability at NCAA events, if of course that is what they are trying to do. The letter states that “according to a recent article in Pediatrics in Review, an official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, many of the claims made by energy drink companies lack sufficient scientific evidence.” This sentence takes a very long time to get to the point, is wordy and it maintains a certain amount of passivity. Although it is not structurally passive it allows the writers to essentially state that there is no evidence for the claims made by energy drink companies without sounding too argumentative. The letter even quotes a euphemistic phrase from the article that it is citing. It reads, “heavy caffeine use can be a significant source of morbidity in athletes,” Here it might be more effective to say death rather than morbidity for the sake of the argument, but then again, tone is very important.
“Other reports have pointed out that the ingredients found in these drinks can cause dehydration, irregular heartbeat, nausea, arrhythmia, and in some cases death,” is another sentence from the letter that although it is not structurally passive it is wordy and roundabout until the sentence feels passive. This sentence is also a very slow starting one. Instead of presenting the studies to support their argument they hide behind it. It is as if the senators are want to present the evidence that supports their argument without owning said argument.
The senators writing the letter also employed sentence combining techniques to make their letter even more official. “This targeted marketing of young people appears to be working, with estimates that 30 to 50 percent of adolescents reporting consumption of energy drinks” is a sentence containing a relative clause. Complex use of appositives is used to create, “Yet, according to a recent article in Pediatrics in Review, an official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, many of the claims made…” And noun substitute is heavily prevalent in the overly complex statement, “As a national leader in interscholastic sports and activities that help student-athletes, the NCAA can educate students, schools, and athletic departments about the potential health risks posed to young people by consuming energy drinks.”
The letter concludes reminding Emmert that the senators look forward to hearing about the actions he plans on taking and referring to the NCAA as a national leader in interscholastic sports and activities that help student-athletes. This euphemistic and bureaucratic buttering-up of Emmert closes the letter the same way that it opens.
It is entirely logical that the official style be utilized in this situation considering that senators need to present themselves in a way that will allow them to be re-elected. It seems like a shame, however, that the argument loses persuasive effect as a result. It is clear in this letter that the official style is being utilized to obscure the true intent of the letter. Perhaps, if the letter were written with a more direct agenda. “Health issues are being linked to energy drinks. We believe that, in light this, it is inappropriate for Energy drinks to be sold at NCAA sporting events,” is a possible opening which gets straight to the point and would likely be more conducive to a progressive discussion on the matter. The question becomes “What is more important?” Are we so sensitive to the language our politicians are using that we would be offended by a straight-forward intent? Are we sacrificing productivity for politeness? Can’t we have both?

Spencer A 

Official Style in Academic Writing

By: Paul Luce 

   The text I chose to critique for the official style is a Communication research article published by the University of Kansas in a joint effort with the National Institute of Aging. Two professors from the university, Susan Kemper and Tamara Harden, co-wrote the paper to increase understanding of specific communication practices used with the elderly. The text is in APA format in order to meet academic guidelines required for formal research papers. The prose style and strategies used reflect the academic nature of the composition.

   Due to the activity system this text is looking to fulfill, the prose style and strategies apparent are bland and strictly adhere to the official style. Prior to entering the text into the readability equation, it was obvious that the sentences were long and utilized numerous punctuations. However, within the greater activity system of the Universy of Kansas this piece is an easy read and the main ideas are blatantly obvious despite that fact. Flesch-Kincaid scored the text a 33.6, which is a pretty moderate difficulty level. On average, sentences contained 17.5 words. To me, that statistic represents the overelaboration and redundancies present in the writing. It’s no wonder that the average grade level for this reading was 13.4; it has a large number of complex ideas compacted into a limited space. The ideas and assertions are often made at the very end of sentences. This makes getting to the idea slow, and it requires a conscious effort from the reader to stay focused all the way through the sentence. Frequent jargonistic language also makes the reader have to exert themselves more because it causes the sentences to be choppy and ideas seem fragmented. The entire text is cold and descriptive: the epitome of the official style.

  Despite the excess use of the official style, the text still functions well in its given context. The activity system for which this was produced is one which already understands the background surrounding the topic. Therefore, jargon filled sentences like the one that follows are easily understood: “The referential communication task generates a language sample from each participant that can be analyzed for speech accommodations such as the use of elderspeak” (pp. 1). The audience who uses this text is highly familiar with the official style and understand the necessary guidelines that are being followed in publication. The prose styles and strategies used for this text are perfect for the audience, but to anyone outside of that group it would be a terrible read.

   Opponents to my viewpoint may argue that this isn’t as much of an example of official style as it is an example of academic writing. The purpose of the composition is to reveal no findings and ideas that have emerged from research. With that intention, it could be argued that elongated sentences and late presentation of information is necessary in this situation. In order for readers to understand the implications of the new research the writers must first lay out prerequisite information earlier in the sentences. The lack of voice apparent in the piece can also be attributed to a need to stay unbiased in order to enhance credibility of the research findings. Whatever your view, elements of the official style are blatantly obvious in this piece and work together to achieve a common end goal: understanding.

The Gap Official Style Creates

I chose to examine the prose of a quantitative research article titled “Breaking Up Is Hard to Do: The Impact of Unmarried Relationship Dissolution on Mental Health and Life Satisfaction.” This research was published in the Journal of Family Psychology, which “offers cutting edge, ground breaking, state-of-the-art and innovative empirical research in the field of psychology.” The Journal of Family Psychology devotes study to stress coping and quality of life within families and couples. In regards to the context, this particular research article would need to use the official style. They are presenting difficult, time consuming, and confusing research data. Quantitative research often uses certain jargon to express procedures and results. The Journal of Family Psychology’s goal is to present research to couples coping with stress in their relationship want to help couples. But what if those individuals do not understand some of the words and concepts? They are losing the audience they say they are attempting to help.
The context can confuse the goal audience for this piece of work. Traditionally, I would consider this piece of work to be read only by academic scholar’s who are interested in this topic. Much of the time, academic journals are written for scholars to explain and predict behaviors. Scholars are surrounded by the official style. Therefore, most research is written in the official style to accommodate scholars reading skills. However, after discovering more about the context, this research was published in the Journal of Family Psychology. As I stated earlier, the goal of this Journal is to present research for families and couples who would like explanations to their questions about family dynamics. As we can see, there is a contradiction between these two contexts. For the “non-academic” audience, words and explanations many not be understood. For example, much of the research is presented in numerical statistics also known as quantitative research. Non-academic families and couples may not understand what the research is even presenting.
The article’s abstract, shown below, scored a 30.7 on Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease, an SMOG index of 12, average grade level of 14.2, and 18.8 words per sentence. These scores are fairly high but seem to be in the “normal” range for scholarly published research. With these high scores, the Journal of Family Psychology’s audience may not understand the research presented.
“The Wizard of Oz wisely understood the hazards of having a heart—a heart can be broken. But, what causes a heart to break more or less? It is well known that individuals who have recently ended a romantic relationship report
lower levels of well-being than those who are in relationships (e.g., Sbarra & Emery, 2005; Simon & Barrett, 2010) but little research has examined changes in well-being from pre- to post dissolution of an unmarried adult relationship. This study prospectively examined how unmarried relationship break-up is related to mental health and life satisfaction in a longitudinal, national sample. Based in part on the investment model (Rusbult, 1980), we also examined characteristics of the relationship (such as duration and living together) that may exacerbate the negative impacts of breaking up. Further, based on the stressful-event-as-stress-relief model (Wheaton, 1990), we considered factors that may buffer against negative effects of a break-up (such as dating someone new).”
The beginning sentence is actually more non-official sounding than the rest of the text. This may draw readers in. Those reading this research could be unmarried individuals who have experienced a break-up, those who have never had a break-up, or those who are experiencing the distress from a break-up. They may have a difficult time reading the first paragraph since not everyone is a scholarly researcher on break-ups. Actually, throughout the entire article, “break-ups” are referred to as “dissolutions of an adult relationship.” The writers are attempting to make a break up sound more than a “tragic” event that happened to you when you were in 7th grade. This is real research about real relationships. Therefore, the research needs to sound as professional as possible for the results to be scholarly. However, while the researchers were writing the article, they did not consider the audience of non-academics.
“Children and other investments such as shared residences or overlapping social networks can also make contact with an ex-partner unavoidable. Maintaining a relationship after dissolution is often stressful and difficult, especially as relationship boundaries are renegotiated and the terms of the dissolution are decided (e.g., Emery & Dillon, 1994). For unmarried couples, especially those with children or shared property, the lack of legal guidelines for the dissolution (e.g., Bowman, 2004) could make continuing contact after the break-up even more conflictual or stressful. A daily diary study of college students who had recently broken-up supports the idea that more contact with the ex-partner would be associated with greater distress, as individuals felt more sadness on the days when contact with the ex-partner occurred (Sbarra & Emery, 2005).”
This passage shows the use of official style with word choice. The writers are using “shared residences” rather than “living together”, “overlapping social networks” rather than “same friends.” This is an easy way to switch from plain style to official style. Although non-academics will still understand this language, it complicates the entire message of the research. This leaves the non-academic audience puzzled and not taking anything away from the research article. Which contradicts the Journal’s goal of helping families with this particular research.
“Continued contact. After the break-up, we measured the frequency with which ex-partners were still talking with the item, “How often do you talk to this person now that the relationship has ended?” Participants responded on a 1 (Never) to 5 (Every day) scale. The anchors in between these two end points were “Every few months” (2), Every few weeks” (3), and “Every few days” (4; M  2.92, SD  1.46).”
Notice how the researchers asked participants questions in plain language. What does this say? A communication difference between academics and non-academics is present. They did not ask about dissolution of a relationship, they asked when the relationship ended. This example shows the need for different styles of language. Many people may not understand the complexities of this research but they are the one’s providing the data. Therefore, researchers need to form the questions into plain language. However, the actual research needs to be provided in official style because it is an official, complex research project. Using different language could create disagreements about what the researcher is actually presenting. Contrasting views of this research could create different meanings for whoever is reading. Most families and couples reading this research are not academics to this degree. Therefore, a problem of understanding occurs between the two activity systems.
“Another way to think about the magnitude of these changes is that following a break-up, 30.7% of the cases reported an increase in psychological distress that was greater than .5 standard deviations (SD; a medium effect size [Kirk, 1996]) and 19.6% of the cases reported a decrease in psychological distress that was greater than .5 SDs.”
This passage explains why we continue to use official style. Sometimes there is just no other way to explain something; it has to be told in complex jargon. Those who know statistics would only know standard deviations. There is no alternate way to explain the data in plain style. Different groups of readers could have varying levels of education, which will determine their understanding of the research. This is where the contradiction lies and problems occur. Since there is no “plain” way to communicate this research, the non-academic audience is ultimately lost.

This contradiction happens in any research presented to non-academic audiences—which is a lot! The goal of research is to explain and predict. If only academics can understand the explanations and predictions, they are not helping their target audience of families and couples. These contradictions are what are wrong with the official style. It creates a gap between academic research writing and those who would benefit from the research. How we close this gap between the two writing styles to create common ground for all audiences could be helpful for both contexts.
M. Whitish

The Mask of the Official Style

            There are many characteristics to the official style that lend to a writer’s ability to hide what they truly have to say. We may call this beating around the bush or avoidance. Many use this to their advantage in hiding the truth of unexpected findings after completing a study. Identification of an age-dependent biomarker signature in children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders has many authors all of whom are professors throughout Europe with an interest in autism spectrum disorders. The research was conducted to get a further understanding behind the molecular portion of the disorders. The research was completed for parents of one or more children with a disorder on the spectrum; so that, they can understand what is going on the inside of their child or children. The excerpt being analyzed is a portion of the conclusion, just following the results, in the study.
            In the beginning, the article explains why the study was completed, what the procedure entailed, and what came of the process. After this long-winded explanation, approximately half of the conclusion was evaluating the uselessness of this study. In a very verbose and extensive fashion the professors explain how the experiment has no confident standing in the field of science. The professors even said, “Another limiting factor was the small number of clinical serum samples tested using the multiplex analysis,” which means that it did not follow the standard sample size needed to make the study have any relevance; therefore, re-conducting the study is near impossible because of the lack of samples. Another difficulty with the procedure the professors pointed out  is, “It would be more accurate to repeat the study under prospective conditions in which multiple samples are taken from the same subjects over time, although this is most likely impractical and will result in a high dropout rate,”  so samples should be tested throughout years with the same subjects, but most would not want to stay with all of the testing. This example sentence shows the slow sentence opening of the Official Style which is distracting from the content.  
            The style used in the writing uses complex and scientific wording that has to be simplified by any average reader, such as a parent, to be understood. According to the professors, “the current finding should be considered as preliminary.” Which is a euphemistic way that the results mean nothing at this point. This goes to show just that the study has no factual information that could be used in any want for gaining knowledge on a personal level. The only reason that this study would be productive is to use as reference of what not to do and find new ways of bettering the procedures. The wording used will show those in the field of science quickly just how the study has no relevance in the furthering of knowledge on the subject of autism spectrum disorders. However, the use of the Official Style in this prolonged conclusion makes it very euphemistic for the parents; it shows them how much we still do not know about their child’s disorder and how difficult it is to gain knowledge on helping them.
            The professors that put in all of the work on this write-up of their findings used the Official Style to make the time and effort spent seem influential in history; however, there is a moral conflict with it being written this way. Parents of children with autism want to read studies that will aid in their understanding, but reading this is just a waste of time for them. The human activity system of this document has a main focus on the parents and children and the effect the study has on them. This study could make them lose their ambition in finding help or faith in scientists to discover the answers.
There are many foundations that raise money towards the research of autism spectrum disorders; and when those people hear that there was another study done that got researchers nowhere in their efforts, it is upsetting. But, the professors try to say this is in a way that gives the parents false hope. It says that if the study was done again with all of the changes stated there would be results helping them move forward but with that comes the need for more funds. The passive voice used from the Official Style hides that the professors misused their own time and others money with this study. The authors of the study hide behind the mask of the Official Style.
E. West