Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Topic: Ugly Sentence

10-second review: Another of my periodic highlighting of extraordinarily ugly examples of jargon in professional publications.

Title: “Ventriloquation in Discussions of Student writing: Examples from a High School English Class.” BL Samuelson. Research in the Teaching of English (August 2009), 52-88. A publication of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

The Sentence: “Bakhtin’s applications of voicing and dialogicality to the study of the novel have been widely understood to describe the heteroglossia inherent in all utterances.”

Comments: Can you translate this sentence? I graduated from high school, achieved a degree as an English major in college, earned my master’s degree in literature, and finished three years of doctoral study, after scoring in the 93rd percentile in the Verbal Section of the Graduate Record Exam by ETS, and I couldn’t understand it. Further, when “Ventriloquation” was explained by the author, I couldn’t understand it either, and I couldn’t understand the article because I couldn’t understand“ventriloquation.” This article was a waste of good American trees.

A friend of mine teaching in an urban setting complained that his students couldn’t write a good sentence. Whoever wrote this article probably has her doctorate, and she gives an excellent example of what is not a good sentence. So there is illiteracy, even at the doctoral level. RayS.

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