CYBERSNARK'S BLOG

Cybersnark

Essays.
Monday, July 3, 2006

Wo de tien ah.

Been proofreading some essays for Ottawa U. students. Looks like Business Admin students, which it seems are even worse than engineering students. These are the "Executive Summary, Summary, Summary of the Summary, Introduction, 3-pages-of-actual-material, Conclusion, Review, Another-Summary-Just-For-The-Hell-Of-It" people. Bureaucrats in training. I fear for the future. In the hopes of making life easier for anyone who has to read these. . . things, I'm gonna rant.

THINGS THAT SHOULD NOT BE IN FORMAL REPORTS
Terms such as "a lot," "and so on," "you," "go with" (in the context of making a choice), "very," "great" (in the context of "good"), and "make" (in the context of manufacturing).
Sentences that start with "And," "Or," or "But."
Made-up words.
Slang.
Words and phrases lifted from textbooks/course lectures and plugged into paragraphs with no understanding as to meaning or context (or even verb tense).
Stream-of-consciousness sentences.
37-word sentences that can be summed up in three words.
Slogans and catch-phrases. Especially non-grammatical ones.
Multiple sentences that say the exact same thing one after another.
The same sentence copy-and-pasted three+ times.
Quotes that have nothing to do with the topic.
Quotes that definitively disprove the argument.
Anything that unwittingly insults the person the report is addressed to.
Anything translated via Babelfish.

THINGS THAT SHOULD BE IN FORMAL REPORTS
Definite and indefinite articles.
Understanding of proper nouns and common nouns.
Sentences with a subject, verb, and object.
Sentences that were planned before being written so that they make logical sense.
Punctuation.
Consistent spelling.
Consistent capitalization.
References showing who is being quoted.

I never realized how complicated the English language is until I started trying to decode the mess that some people make out of it. I've been spoiled as an English major. I appreciate that a lot of these are English-as-a-Second-Language cases, but is it really too much to ask that they get some linguistic training before being assigned multi-page business reports? The whole point is to get them to convey information effectively.

COMMENTS

Monday, July 3, 2006 9:09 PM

SINGATE


Your head would explode if I showed you some examples of the e-mail I see at work. No spellcheck, random punctuation, and severe run-on sentences. Yes sir, this is the future of the business world.


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