Friday, April 17, 2015

Are Newspaper Articles doomed to be as Plain as Jane?

           For writing to be accessible does it have lack in flair? In looking at the article Write? On Paper? Summer Camp Letters are an Oddity in the Digital World by Jeff Stickler a journalist for the Star Tribune, a regional newspaper located in the Twin Cities, it is clear the writing is intended to be accessible, which is good otherwise Mr. Stickler may want to look into another career other than that of newspaper journalist.  The piece meant to inform readers and as well as entertain them. This can seem to be juxtaposition since informing on any topic to a mass number of people from a variety of backgrounds requires plain language which can be, well, a bit boring at times. In looking into the article further I wanted to explore how what is considered how plain style can vary depending on context, as well as, whether a writing needs to be plain in order to be understood.
The title is what first struck me as interesting. While it was to the point it also had creative elements.  At first glance it may seem very conversational and yet the word “oddity” is not one would expect to come out of someone’s mouth in everyday conversation. It is more of a highbrow word; more likely to be found in an official document rather than in article articulating that handwritten letters are no longer the norm. The second part of the title that piqued my interest was the phrase “digital world.” This phrase signifies a change in generations. The generation raised on computers, video games, and cell phones versus the generations who were not. Now since the article was originally posted online it can be assumed the authors was speaking more to the latter rather than the former who are more likely to read newspaper the traditional way, on physical paper. This means that the phrase “digital world’ could be seen as plain language since the intended audience would most likely be familiar with the phrase and its meaning since by reading the article online they would participating in the “digital world”.
             When diving further into the article I found more words that did not quite fit in with colloquial speech such as unfathomable, novice, cowed, and notion. Now while these words are not unheard of in everyday language, they are still not commonly used.  Words like unthinkable, new, intimidated, and thought are much plainer words that would get the job done and yet Stickler chose ‘fancier’ more official style words.  The answer why is because to stick strictly to plain language would cause the writing to be none other than plain or in other words boring. While it is the average journalist job to try and reach as many readers as possible they do not want bore or talk down to their readers. It is their job to entertain as well as inform, otherwise readers would turn to other sources for their news.           
            To keep the language easy to follow the author included short sentences with an average of 15 words long. With shorter, to the point sentence, it is harder to lose the reader along the way. In general, despite the discrepancies listed earlier, the words chosen where on the simple side with an average of 1.5 syllables per words making for short words to be the rule. The article after being placed in a readability calculator had the average grade level of the text come out as being 8th grade which is on par with average reading level Americans prefer to read at being at the middle school level. This again circles back to the idea of writers for newspapers trying to reach as many people with the target audience as possible.
            In keeping with the point of the article, at the ended the author provided a list of tips on how readers can personally try and help bring back the art of postmarked letters. He structured it as a list of bulleted points like so:
“• Imagine a conversation. Share your activities and your thoughts, but also ask questions so your correspondent has something to respond to.
• Don’t hurry. Pen, paper, long summer sunset — take time to reflect, open up and write as much or as little as you feel.
• Warm up. Jot a few notes or start writing on a scrap of paper until you are ready to jump into the letter" (Stickler).
For easy of reading, the writer purposefully placed the tips in a parallel format. Frist, he started with a strong, to the point action, using a strong verb. Then the author provided a longer clarifying sentence to help prompt ideas on how to accomplish said action. This is very use full plain writing technique that is used in many how-to types of text which it could be argued as one of the purposes of the text.
 In the further explanations more creative rather than plain writing can be seen for example with “until you are ready to jump into the letter.” Now none of the words are difficult to understand however the verb “jump” is not being used in the typical way. The word “jump” in this instance not being used literally but figuratively. This understood by readers even though it is not the typical plain Jane usage. No one is picturing a person physically trying to jump into a letter, which is hilarious mental image by the way, but not the intended or perceived meaning. In word choice such as using “jump” the way it is this example illustrates the point that writers trying to reach as many readers as possible are not doomed to only using vanilla words. They can mix it up with some strawberry or chocolate from time to time though some choices such cotton candy may be pushing it a smidge too far. As reader and a writer this is an uplifting thought because who wants to always read writing that is lacking in originality all of the time. Writers just have to aware their context and audience when they play with their words. 

- Sarah B.

Speaking Whale in Plain Style

Speaking Whale in Plain Style

            I never thought texts written in “Plain Style” could be difficult to understand like texts written in the “Official Style”.  After diving into Carl Zimmer’s “Whales on the Wrong Side of the World”, I discovered the craftiness hidden beneath the ‘simple’ and ‘concise’ rhetorical devices the “Plain Style” claims to have.  When first reading Zimmer’s text, I was convinced that his main focus was on the changing migration patterns of gray whales due to global climate change.  However, this was not the case.  By writing in “Plain Style”, Zimmer was able to connect my interests with my emotions.  Zimmer’s play on my interests not only captured my attention, but awoke my concern for global climate change and its impact on whales.
            Any animal lover, or casual reader, would generally find an article titled “Whales on the Wrong Side of the World” an interesting topic to read about.  What makes this text even more appealing to read is that you can actually understand it.  With a readability grade level of 8.2, Zimmer is able to reach a far wider audience with his text than his “Official Style” writing companions.  Zimmer begins his text with an easily read and clear opening:
“A team of marine biologists was conducting a survey off the coast of Israel when they spotted it.”
Bam.  Zimmer instantly uses the rhetorical device of an active voice.  Unlike users of the “Official Style”, Zimmer clearly states ‘who is kicking who’.  By writing in this way, Zimmer allows us to easily understand who and what this article is about.  He also makes it very clear where this event takes place.  What other rhetorical devices does Zimmer use?  Well let’s take a look:
“At first they thought it was a sperm whale.  But each time the animal surfaced, the more clearly they could see that it had the wrong anatomy.  When they got back on land, they looked closely at the photographs they had taken and realized, to their shock, that it was a gray whale.  This species is a common sight off the coast of California, but biologists had never seen one outside of the Pacific before.”
            Zimmer wastes no time with silly (“Official”) words in his text.  By using simple words, we’re easily able to follow and understand Zimmer’s sentences.  Aside from simple word usage, Zimmer makes his text even easier to read with short and concise sentences.
            Animal lovers and casual readers are most likely Zimmer’s targeted audience.  Zimmer gives his audience an easy and casual read that is understandable and easy to connect with.  What’s wrong with this approach?  While the text is easy to understand, the real goal of this text is almost invisible.  That is, until you reach the very end of Zimmer’s article:
“As seal levels rise, there will be more shallow shelves where the whales can scoop up mud to find food.  Today, a gray whale outside the Pacific seems like a case of Photoshopping.  Soon, however, we may be photoshopping a whole ocean of whales.”
            Before I talk about the ‘hidden’ message and goal of Zimmer’s text, I want to talk about the way in which he executes his message.  By using elements of the “Plain Style”, clarity, short sentences, and active voice, Zimmer is able to widen the accessibility of his text and the effectiveness of its influence.  You can only be moved by what you understand, right?  Zimmer’s ability to connect with us allows him to influence the way we feel.  By using whales as the ‘centerpiece’ of his article, Zimmer is able to get us thinking about global climate change.  Making suggestions to his us such as:
“Soon, however, we may be photoshopping a whole ocean of whales.”

 Zimmer is able to influence our thoughts and feelings about global climate change by focusing on what is important to us: the potential extinction of whales.  So what’s the real message Zimmer wishes for us to take away?  Global climate change will lead to the extinction of whales.  If you like whales, help prevent global climate change.  Remember when I asked what was wrong with this approach?  Well I’ll give you an answer.  Allowing us access to his text by writing in a ‘language’ we can understand, Zimmer is granted our permission to influence us with his beliefs.  Although Zimmer is trying to encourage us to take care of our planet, he does so by exploiting what is important to us.  Is this a reasonable approach?  It definitely isn’t ethical.  Even though Zimmer’s text qualifies as being written in the “Plain Style”, the expected influence of his text reflects properties of the “Official Style”.  In the end, Zimmer’s abundance of clarity ultimately blinds us of his true intentions.

Sapphire S.

Emergency situation communication: When effectiveness backfires

This document was made by the West Virginia American Water company after the Freedom Industries chemical spill in January 2014. This document was given to residents to help them “flush” their plumbing systems to get rid of the contaminant in their tap water supply. For my critique, I will be analyzing the text and context surrounding this document, and discussing the effectiveness of the prose style.

Screenshot 2015-03-26 at 3.17.08 PM.png
The textual analysis shows this document to communicate very effectively based on the elements used to get the point across quickly in an emergency situation. The water company, however, was not prepared for this event in terms of fixing the issue. This led to incomplete information being presented to the public as complete information. The residents were trusting of this document, and it turned out to be not entirely useful.

The document-maker did they best they could with what information they had, and what they truly thought was correct information was not. This was a learning experience for everyone involved, and these studies and considerations better prepare us for future incidents. The following is an in-depth analysis of the text and context.

Textual analysis


The three steps for how to flush your plumbing system have same structure:
Flush ALL hot water taps for 15 minutes
Flush ALL cold water taps for five minutes
Flush ALL remaining faucets and appliances
Putting the ALL in capital letters in each step puts emphasis on this instruction that every single one of the taps in the home need to be flushed. There is also paragraphs after each
step going into more detail that anyone who might not fully understand the main step would find useful.

Each of the paragraphs after the three steps also include some bolded text. The author bolded this text to emphasis it as important information, but there is also some parallelism between what is bolded. The words, “How to Flush Plumbing Appliances and Faucets,” is always bolded because it’s referring to another document and it keeps the formatting consistent. In the first two steps about flushing the hot and cold water taps, the following is bolded:
Run these hot water fixtures for at least 15 minutes. Shut off water after 15 minutes.
Run these cold water fixtures for at least five minutes. Shut off water after five minutes.
These have basically the same phrasing, only the temperature and the number of minutes is different.

This use of parallelism is useful for the author to get the point across as quickly as possible. Reading the same sentence structure over and over allows the reader to focus more on the content than on deciphering the meaning of a sentence structure.

Emphasis - Colors and bold

The heading of, “HOW TO FLUSH YOUR PLUMBING SYSTEM,” is in all capital letters and in green. This draws attention to it and makes it stand out to the reader as the title of the following information.

Each of the three steps are also in green text. This makes them stand out to the reader as well. If the reader were to only read a few things off the page, the writer wants these three points to be included in that, so they put emphasis on it.

Plain language

This document uses many words that are the “simpler” version of words that are more commonly used in the Official Style. An examples of this plain language is the following:
Please complete these steps in the order set out below. Finish each step completely before moving on to the next step.
Someone who is using the official style might say it this way:
It is advised that residents adhere to these instructions to their full extent in terms of
order. Accomplishing each instruction fully is recommended prior to considering the following instruction.
The first way is much more clear while it uses direct commands and words that are more familiar to the general public. Examples of those clear words would be “complete” rather than “adhere to” and “finish” rather than “accomplish”.

This document also uses a picture to show all the places in a home that should be attended to before they can be used again. Even though they already list everything, they also include a picture. This is appealing to both visual and textual people who might be reading this document.


The word “flushing” or “flush” is used throughout this document while referring to the protocol residents are advised to do. Because they always refer to it as the same thing, it leaves little room for confusion. The same idea can be said for the repetition of the


The readability data of an excerpt from this document is given below:

Flesch Kincaid Reading Ease: 69.1
Average Grade Level: 8.2
Characters per word: 4.4
Words per sentence: 16.7

This data shows that this document is easy to read. The preferred reading level for most people is grade 7 and this document is very close to that at grade 8. As a document made for the public to get information as quickly as possible in an emergency situation, this readability information is appropriate.

Contextual analysis

Chemical spill at Freedom Industries in West Virginia occurred on January 9th 2014. The water company needed to get information about how to fix problems quickly. Residents told to flush system starting on Jan 13 and that after protocol was finished, they could use their water without any health issues. Effectiveness of flushing protocol in homes was never
monitored by water company for effectiveness of getting rid of contaminant. Effectiveness of flushing protocol never accounted for chemical volatilizing into air. Study from my previous critique showed that it was possible that the contaminant was not effectively removed from homes after flushing. It also showed that people were still experiencing contaminant-caused health issues after flushing protocol and Do Not Use order on public water were lifted. Possible reasons why this occurred, according to the study, include the water being flushed in being just as contaminated as the water being flushed out, so the level of contaminant never changed. Also, the study mentioned the possibility that the chemical could be volatilizing into the air and causing health issues. (STUDY:


Plain Style: For Dummies

The article I will be critiquing is an article on the “For Dummies” website. The “For Dummies” books are often used to help people learn and do things through simple directions. On their website, describes the site/ books as, “bringing the how-to brand you know and trust online, where you'll find our proven experts presenting even the most complex subjects in plain English... you can trust to tell it like it is, without all the technical jargon.” The site pledges to avoid unnecessary “jargon” and attempts to make the writing as simple as possible. It is for general public and teaching people about various subjects. The one I chose was “Checking Your Car’s Air Filter” because I know absolutely nothing about cars and how they work.
The word choice of the article is fairly simple and does not have a large amount of jargon. The readability level is slightly over the reading level of the average American being that it is at 9.5, while the average American reads at a 7th grade reading level. It has a Flesch- Kincaid Reading Ease of 69.3. While this is not super easy, it is by some standards still plain style. Conveniently, the article also includes pictures, which would probably lower its reading level if they could be calculated.

There were also “Tips” to help you out along the way and bolded words to highlight important sections.

To see whether your air filter needs to be replaced, just lift it out (it isn't fastened down) and hold it up to the sun or to a strong light. Can you see the light streaming through it? If not, try dropping it lightly, bottom side down, on a hard surface. Doing so should jar some dirt loose. (Don't blow through the filter — you can foul it up that way.) If the filter is still too dirty to see through after you've dropped it a few times, you need a new one.

The article definitely contains elements of plain style. Examples and figures are both elements of the plain style. There are about 24 words per sentence and simple verb forms. For example, one sentence from the article explains, “If you unscrew the wing nut on the lid of your air cleaner and undo any other devices that hold it down, you'll find the air filter inside.”  Both “find” and “undo” a fairly simple verb forms. The subject (you), verb (wing nut), and object (the lid) are also close together. The largest words used in the article are fairly common words such as “permanent” and “extract.” The rest of the words used such as “lid” “old” and “air” are very common words and the ones only needed to understand this article fully.
While the article was fairly simple, there were some parts that were difficult to understand. In particular one part stated, “But you have to remove the air cleaner to view and access a carburetor or other stuff under the cleaner.” I found “other stuff” to be a very vague phrase and “carburetor” to be confusing. While “other stuff” suggests use of the plain style, being that the word choice is simple and excludes unknown car parts, mentioning a “carburetor” brings in more of an official style. In ways this sentence embodies the official style and the plain style, creating a puzzling situation.
            The rest of the final paragraph doesn’t get much better. As the article goes on to teach the reader how to remove their entire air cleaner it says,
“To do so, just unscrew the wing nut and other hold-down devices as though you were going to replace the air filter, and then lift the entire air cleaner up and off. If it refuses to budge, look for additional clamps or screws that may be holding it in place. If you have to disconnect any hoses in order to free the air cleaner, just disconnect the ends that connect to the air cleaner, and make sure that you remember exactly where they were attached. (If more than one hose is involved, draw a sketch before you detach anything.)”
The paragraph is very confusing and unclear. By using the plain style in this article, they simplified the process too much. Cars and other automobiles are not simple for a lot of people, hence why jobs such as mechanics exist. I’m not a mechanic, but to me, attempting to “lift the entire air cleaner up and off” of your car without knowing what you are doing sounds like a bad idea. While a picture of the original air filter was shown, there were no pictures or extra guidance suggested for this part of the process. This brings further discussion on whether or not, “plain style” is always the “best” style.
            While plain style does make things easier to read, sometimes it simplifies material too much or is difficult to achieve. Generally, the For Dummies books do a decent job presenting the plain style, however, in cases such as these, clearly it is not always easy. Some subjects are simply not easy enough to simplify, unless an individual has some prior knowledge on the subject. This makes it difficult to incorporate the plain style into a style for everyone, which the plain style attempts to do.
            Clearly, the plain style is not always the best style. While the official style is more difficult to understand, not everything can be simplified so plainly. Certain subjects and materials require the audience to have some background knowledge. It is hard to make a book on every subject for everyone. People are all different and have different backgrounds and experiences. This makes it nearly impossible for there to be a plain style that pertains to everyone and makes the “plain style” claim of For Dummies questionable. However, generally, For Dummies does a decent job pertaining to a nearly impossible audience. When your audience is the general public, it is hard to write to such a wide variety of people.
Alyssa Baldwin

Is Plain Style Too Plain To Be Trusted?

 A possible objection here is that not using plastic bags is inconvenient in daily lives. I freely admit this is true, but we cannot ruin the environment that we are living in just because of convenience. In many situations, we have to put up with the inconveniences for the bigger good. For instance, we brush our teeth everyday no matter how inconvenient it is and how sleepy we are, because we know that is good for our health. If we don’t brush our teeth every day, gum diseases and tooth decay develop slowly, and without the ability to eat we compromise our health and could even die before our time. This means we will have many more inconveniences as we age, like the pain, the foul smell in our mouths, and dentist bills. This is comparable to using the plastic bags. Plastic bags are like those gum diseases and tooth decay, the earth is like our teeth. If we keep using plastic bags every day because of convenience, we will ruin our planet. Who can benefit from your little convenience? The answer is no one, because nobody wants their children to live in worse circumstances and pay for their own “convenience bill.” Although it is easier to live life conveniently, inconveniences sometimes are more beneficial in the long run. (Aijing Song 2014).
This paragraph comes from an assignment I did for English 110, which I took last semester, 2014. For this assignment I had to write a persuasive essay that could be published in a newspaper. The reader of this assignment was the professor, classmates and, if published, the general public, especially people who do the grocery shopping in their household. This could be anyone, such as a housewife, a working mother, a single man, or a student. This essay aimed to convince people to stop using plastic bags by providing a lot of examples and giving evidence to explain why stopping the use of plastic bags is so important. Since few people have awareness of the issue, the environmental problem is getting worse. Even though this essay is written in plain language, it is effective and clear to the audience in any fields. Plain language is the best choice for a persuasive news article because it has the best chance of reaching a large audience.
According to Flesch’s 1949 analysis of the readability of adult reading materials, this paragraph’s Flesch-Kincaid reading ease of 64.4 is at a standard level. The range goes from 60-70. Although the average grade level is 9.9, the Estimated School Grade is 7th or 8th grade, which is accessible for the general public.
This is definitely an example of plain style because it uses a conversational tone and active voice throughout the paragraph. It uses tons of first and second points of view such as “I”, “we” and “your” to lower the levels of formality of this passage to reach as large of an audience as possible. Although it contains few complex sentences structure, most of the sentences are short and made of the simplest sentence structure—I put the subject, verb and object as close as possible, which is easy but the best. Words in this paragraph are so easy and common that we use them everyday in our life, such as “gum diseases”, “tooth decay” and “dentist bill”. The first two sentences are a good and quick opening that present two opposite arguments. The first sentence gives the general public’s argument and the next sentence followed by my own opinion and supporting argument. “I freely admit this is true” is the safest way to present an argument without offending other augments and it is the fast way to draw the audience into this paragraph and grabs audience’s attention.   
  Further dissecting the plain style in this paragraph. There are a lot of plain style strategies such as Metabasis, Exemplum, Analogy, Conduplicatio, Disticto  and Hypophora. The first two sentences use Metabasis because they start with what has been said among the general public about inconvenience and next followed by my argument about convenience will ruin our planet. “For instance” and “like” are the signs of Exemplum, aims to give examples that’s relevant to audiences’ situation so that help to relate themselves and come up with the agreement with my argument. The analogies I used are “brush our teeth” and “stop using plastic bags”, “gum diseases and tooth decay” and the environmental problem, “tooth” and “earth” as well as “dentist bill” and “convenience bill”, which would naturally inspire audiences’ imagination and lead them to the self-criticism. This is effective because my professor and most of my classmates were convinced by using these analogies and realized that we have been hurting our environment and themselves unconsciously, some of them were starting to consider giving up plastic bags. Moreover, this paragraph applies Conduplicatio by repeating the word “(in)convenience” from the beginning to the end of this paragraph, aims at emphasizing that “(in)convenience” is the main motivation and repetition can also create an emotional effect to the audience. “This means” in the middle of the paragraph is using Disticto, further explaining by following the common consequences we might have experience such as dentist problem, resonates with the audience. “This is comparable to using the plastic bags”, “this” here is a pronoun, so avoid repeating. It is also a transition word, which makes a clear connection between the bad consequences of not brushing our teeth and the baneful result of using plastic bags. Hypophora is also being used in the second to last sentence, I asked a question and I also provided the answer. 
Different people might have different reactions while reading this passage. In addition to the style of language used, the type of publication that the essay appears in might make a difference. College students, housewives and parents might be persuaded because they can easily understand the plain language. Thus, if understood easily, college students would change their habits because they cannot only use this knowledge to educate themselves but also their friends around them. For instance, students on our campus could choose not to use plastic bags in dinning hall facilities. Housewives or parents would also consider changing their habits, like choosing to use reusable grocery bags, because they are more likely to want to set an example for their children because they wathem to live a better life. On the other hand, environmental experts might find the language in this passage too plain to be seen as creditable and authentic enough to convince the general public of the urgency of the problem. Thus, my argument would never have the possibility to convince all people in my class or the people who read it form the general public since people would base their opinion on their own self-interests. If my argument is beneficial to them, they will take it into consideration and sacrifice their small convenience (using plastic bags) for the greater good; if it is not, they will ignore it and find all kinds of reasons to raise their objection and continue their convenience (keep using plastic bags).
Since the targeted audience for this essay is anyone who does the household grocery shopping, and this person could be male or female, we have to keep in mind that the average American has a reading level of 7th grade. Therefore, if my essay had been written in official style and published in the newspaper, the grade level would likely be much higher, and the essay would not be understood and accessible to the general public. I don’t think plain style is less credible or trustworthy than official style, and I don’t think it is a good thing to trust someone when we cannot understand. So if it is published in the newspaper, how could the general public understand if they cannot accept the writing style? Thus, it would be more believable and effective to write in a plain style because it is more clear and concise and has more opportunities to reach as large of an audience as possible.
However, there are a lot of people that believe that written works in official style are more credible and authentic. This is also true, since there are all kinds of people—students, housewives, scholars or experts from any fields…etc.—reading newspapers everyday. Newspapers need to be easy to understand and trustworthy at the same time, something that cannot be achieved by plain style alone. So is it better to combine official style and plain style in the newspaper? Would combining the two styles make the writing authentic enough and also give it the ability to reach a majority of the audience?  

Aijing Song

Critique of “They Say I Say”

Critique of They Say I Say
I choose this sample from Graff Birkenstein’s “They Say I Say”. Graff Birkenstein is a professor of English and Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago. This sample is reading material from my class “Introduction to Rhetoric and Writing Studies.” It is also an academic essay about educating people on how to compose academic writing. I used two quotations from this essay to prove that it uses plain style language and to argue that this plain language can benefit students. Some people might say that this kind of essay should be written in the official style since it is an academic essay (and it is attempting to teach academic writing), but this sample is a great example proving that good academic writing can be written in plain language. In my opinion, we need to change the perception that academic writing must be official. I think what makes an essay “good” isn’t whether or not it is official or plain, but rather that it allows the reader to benefit and learn something from it.
“Think about an activity that you do particularly well: cooking, playing the piano, shooting a basketball, even something as basic as driving a car. If you reflect on this activity, you'll realize that once you mastered it you no longer had to give much conscious thought to the various moves that go into doing it. Performing this activity, in other words, depends on your having learned a series of complicated moves-moves that may seem mysterious or difficult to those who haven't yet learned them” (1).
“The same applies to writing. Often without consciously realizing it, accomplished writers routinely rely on a stock of established moves that are crucial for communicating sophisticated ideas. What makes writers masters of their trade is not only their ability to express interesting thoughts, but their mastery of an inventory of basic moves that they probably picked up by reading a wide range of other accomplished writers. Less experienced writers, by contrast, are often unfamiliar with these basic moves, and unsure how to make them in their own writing. This book is intended as a short, user-friendly guide to the basic moves of academic writing” (1).
Let us look at the readability values about this sample first, its Average Grade Level is 13.1. For an academic essay, 13.1 is fairly low. The Syllables per Word of this sample is 1.6, the Words per Sentence is 24.0, and the Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease is 46.3. All of these values indicate that this sample is written in plain language. 
Let’s look at the sentence dynamic. First of all, the word choice of this sample are short and common words such as “cooking”, “communicating”, “unfamiliar” and so on. At the same time, it avoids legal, foreign, and technical jargon. Furthermore, there are no abbreviations in the two paragraphs. In addition, these two quotations are written in short sentences with simple structure instead of various subordinate clauses. The shortest sentence is the first sentence in the second paragraph, The same applies to writing. It only contains five words. Moreover, it keeps the subject, verb, and object close together. Also, in the first paragraph, the writer uses very simple examples like cookingplaying the pianoshooting a basketball and driving a car.” These simple examples can help readers to understand what the writer wants to express. These two paragraphs I chose are written in plain language, and use the exemplum strategy. It shows that when we learn how to write well, just like our other skills such as cooking or driving car, we can eventually master it.
To sum up, all the values and sentence dynamics reflect that this sample is written in plain language, and the readers this essay targets are normal people who want to learn how to compose an academic essay or students who study a related major and need to know how to write theoretically. Some people may think that this essay being written in plain language would influence its authority, and that readers may question whether the writer is professional or not. However, in my opinion, I think the writer’s use of plain language is a wise decision. This essay’s target readers are those people or students who have interest in academic writing, which means they lack of the knowledge of how to write professionally. Thus, the purpose of this essay is to educate people how to write academically. If the writer used official style, it would be hard for readers to understand, not mention to learn from it. Worse, readers might lose their interest in the beginning of the essay if this essay was written in official style. People can benefit from plain language; it will be easier for them to learn how to write academic papers. I, for instance, as an international student, can read this essay without looking for the definition of each word, and I can understand what the writer is talking about. I can read this essay smoothly without stopping to think what is the meaning of this sentence? Therefore, I think using plain language will help the public to be educated by this kind of article. In other words, the public can more easily learn something from it.  This academic article shows us that official style is not a necessary component of academic writing.

Xiaoqian Zeng

Graff, G., & Birkenstein, Cathy. (2010). They say / I say : The moves that matter in academic writing / Gerald Graff, Cathy Birkenstein. (2nd ed.). New York: W.W. Norton &.