Grammar

What is Academic language?

Explanations of key features of academic writing (continued).

Colloquial language
Explanation: informal expressions, often used in speech, which might be used with people you are familiar with.
Example of colloquial language: I guess they're going to be wrecked when they get back to their place.
Example of uncolloquial language: I would imagine that they will be tired when they return home.

Cohesion
Explanation:  the use of pronouns (he, she, it), demonstratives (this, that) and other referring expressions.
The writer can make multiple references to people, things, and events to avoid repetition.
Example of cohesion: Alice Jones arrived late to the seminar room. She could hear lots of people in there so she tried to open the door but it was locked so she tried it again. She managed to open it this time. She closed it behind her whereupon everybody clapped and cheered which took her by surprise.

Original text: Alice Jones arrived late to the seminar room. Alice Jones could hear lots of people in the seminar room. Alice Jones tried to open the door of the seminar room. The door was locked. Alice Jones tried the door again. Alice Jones managed to open the door this time. Alice Jones closed the door behind Alice Jones. Everybody clapped and cheered. The clapping and cheering took Alice Jones by surprise.

Referents
Explanation: A referent is the word which is being referred to using words like 'they', 'their', 'it', 'him'

Topicalisation
Explanation: A sentence should always make it clear what the topic of the sentence is. A thing, action or piece of information could be the topic (the most important part) of the sentence.

Example: Mary offered James a lift.
Explanation: the information focus is the performer of the action.

Example: James was offered a lift by Mary.
Explanation: the information focus is the recipient of the action.

Example: A lift was offered to James by Mary.
Explanation: the information focus is the object rather than the giver or receiver.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Have you tried to use the passive voice, where possible, to place the emphasis on the action rather than the performer of the action?
  • Have you avoided the use of contracted verb forms?
  • Have you tried to use subordination to explain the relationships between concepts, ideas, entities and states of affairs?
  • Have you avoided colloquial expressions?
  • Have you been careful not to be too  journalistic in your writing?