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How to Say What You Mean Without Confusing, Overlooking, or Offending Your Reader (and Other Easy Tasks) with Amber Cook Senior Writing Specialist* *A.

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Presentation on theme: "How to Say What You Mean Without Confusing, Overlooking, or Offending Your Reader (and Other Easy Tasks) with Amber Cook Senior Writing Specialist* *A."— Presentation transcript:

1 How to Say What You Mean Without Confusing, Overlooking, or Offending Your Reader (and Other Easy Tasks) with Amber Cook Senior Writing Specialist* *A what, you say? Allow me to explain…

2 A Specialists Perspective Ten specialists 300+ papers each week Best job in the world But we do start to notice patterns…

3 A Specialists Perspective #1: Scholarly writing Either: (a) too informal or (b) trying too hard to be formal

4 A Specialists Perspective #2: Biased language Type 1: overlooking folks Type 2: offending folks

5 The Plan Scholarly language: What and how Avoiding bias Strategies for using sensitive and inclusive language

6 Word Choice: Whats the Big Deal? Why does it matter so much? Isnt it all subjective anyway? Why cant I just say what I mean? Shes skeptical

7 Word Choice: Whats the Big Deal? Sensitive, unbiased, and scholarly writing: 1. Boosts your credibility. 2. Increases the chances your work will be read and taken seriously. 3. Keeps the focus on your work.

8 Scholarly Writing

9 Scholarly Writing: What How do we know were looking at a scholarly work?

10 Scholarly Writing: What –No mention of Britney Spears –Wording more specialized/requires previous knowledge –Presence of original research

11 Scholarly Writing: What –Careful citation of sources and presence of bibliography/reference list –Formal language

12 Scholarly Writing: Formal Language So what exactly is formal language, lady?

13 Scholarly Writing: Formal Language Pronoun use –Is first person OK? Sure: My workplace is fraught with environmental hazards. Well, maybe not: I believe that Freuds theory is stronger than Adlers theory. –Context matters, but Walden and APA approve

14 Scholarly Writing: Formal Language Pronoun use –The editorial we We often avoid facing traumatic situations. –See APA p. 39: Avoid it unless youre specifically talking about yourself and your colleagues

15 Scholarly Writing: Formal Language Pronoun use –Second person pronouns You must exercise caution when assessing your own learning. Never run red lights. (implied you) –Best avoided (whom exactly are you talking to?)

16 Scholarly Writing: Formal Language Contractions –Problem: Casual (better for speech than writing) The manager couldnt [should be could not] figure out how to reach her staff. Children often cant [should be cannot] follow a lesson plan without an occasional snack break.

17 Scholarly Writing: Formal Language Colloquialisms –Problem: Casual, imprecise, not universal There are lots of theorists The team could smell success She got over it It was not a big deal They had seen better days

18 Scholarly Writing: Formal Language Word variety –Problem: repetition can be distracting and implies a limited vocabulary The manager believed that his employees were wasting time looking at match.com and believed that these employees wasted company resources.

19 HOWEVER…

20 Scholarly Writing: Formal Language –Formal writing is NOT: Stuffy Unnecessarily complex All about big words

21 Scholarly Writing: Formal Language Would you rather read: Author A: The individuals utilized their writing utensils in order to complete the learning tool in the learning institution. Or Author B: The students used pencils to fill out the answers on the test at school. ?

22 Avoiding Bias: What OK so what is bias?

23 Avoiding Bias: What According to The Chicago Manual of Style (15 th ed.), biased language is language that is either sexist or suggestive of other conscious or subconscious prejudices that are not central to the meaning of the work (p. 233).

24 Avoiding Bias: What According to sixth edition of APA: Scientific writing must be free of implied or irrelevant evaluation of the…groups being studied (p. 70).

25 Avoiding Bias: How Stay away from generalizations by avoiding stated or implied all or never assertions Biased: People from Tennessee are obsessed with UT football.

26 Avoiding Bias: How Stay away from generalizations: Better: Many Tennesseans are avid fans of UT football.

27 Avoiding Bias: How Answer the question says who? Biased: Third-grade boys are chronically disruptive, while the girls are always eager to please.

28 Avoiding Bias: How Answer the question says who? Better: In Clooneys (2004) study of Kansas City third-graders, 35% of the boys and 68% of the girls were able to complete instructions for a tedious assignment without showing signs of agitation.

29 Avoiding Bias: How Be aware of your own biases –Assumptions about professions –Beliefs about peoples tendencies –Preference for familiar people/situations –Me as the sun approach

30 Avoiding Bias: How Let your findings speak for themselves Mention demographical information only when relevant Use sensitive and inclusive language

31 Sensitive Language: It Aint Just for Sissies

32 Sensitive Language: Basics Have you ever been personally offended by something you read? Why?

33 ACTIVITY!!!

34 Activity Compose a paragraph that describes participants in your study. In this discussion, include relevant details of ethnic identity/race, gender, disability, age, and economic status.

35 Sensitive Language Take a look at APA (sixth edition) pp Refer to supplement on APA website:

36 Sensitive Language: Age Avoid open-ended age rankings (e.g., over 65; under 18)Avoid open-ended age rankings (e.g., over 65; under 18) Be specific rather than descriptive, so The participants between ages 70 and 84 as opposed to the elderly participantsBe specific rather than descriptive, so The participants between ages 70 and 84 as opposed to the elderly participants

37 Sensitive Language: Gender Avoid pronoun pitfallsAvoid pronoun pitfalls Watch out for assumptions or gender stereotypingWatch out for assumptions or gender stereotyping Keep wording parallel (e.g., man and woman rather than woman and boy or man and girl)Keep wording parallel (e.g., man and woman rather than woman and boy or man and girl)

38 Sensitive Language: Sexual Orientation Note that the terms lesbians/gay men are preferable to homosexualNote that the terms lesbians/gay men are preferable to homosexual Separate the gay or lesbian identity from specific sexual behaviorsSeparate the gay or lesbian identity from specific sexual behaviors

39 Sensitive Language: Racial or Ethnic Identity Stay abreast of changes: Preferred terminology changes frequentlyStay abreast of changes: Preferred terminology changes frequently Be careful of the words minority and diverseBe careful of the words minority and diverse Avoid using one racial group as the primary group (e.g., non-Asian)Avoid using one racial group as the primary group (e.g., non-Asian) Be more specific (e.g., Chinese American instead of Asian American)Be more specific (e.g., Chinese American instead of Asian American)

40 Sensitive Language: Disabilities Use person-first language Use person-first language Avoid loaded wording (e.g., heart attack victim, suffering from Alzheimers disease)Avoid loaded wording (e.g., heart attack victim, suffering from Alzheimers disease) Avoid euphemisms like challenged or specialAvoid euphemisms like challenged or special

41 Questions? (attn: Amber Cook)


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