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Apprentice writing should not use emotive style Report

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Updated: May 30th, 2019

Every time one begins to read a text, one has this faith about the author’s ability to use language clearly in his expressing ideas. There is an assumption that the writer has enough authority on the subject and that the information contained therein is factual and not subjected to personal interpretation (Brannon & Knoblauch 1982).

Therefore, a writer’s use of language is very essential in communicating in academic writing. Academic writing ought to be very objective, analytical and avoid any aspect of personalization. It should be devoid of any emotive language expressed through grammatical features such as personal pronouns.

Apprentice writers therefore find themselves in this dilemma; should they stick to the already established norms or be creative and use emotional language?

The use of personal pronouns, personal experiences and other grammatical features has been rejected in English academic writing as it makes an academic less formal. The aim of this paper is to give the reasons why apprentice writers need not be personal in their writing.

English academic writing should have the appropriate level of formality. Formality is achieved by using the appropriate grammatical features and writing style. Grammatical features such as the use of personal pronouns such as I, we and you, and the use of imperatives is considered inappropriate.

Using these personal pronouns and imperatives is associated with person-to-person dialogue (Chang & Swales 1969). Therefore including them in academic writing has been found to make academic writing less formal.

It relegates the piece of work to the level of dialogue, where a speaker is allowed to use personal pronouns, as this informality therefore makes a piece of writing lack the necessary academic formality.

Questions of plagiarism have been raised in academic writing. Plagiarism is presenting other writers ideas as writer’s own. Muftah and Jabr (2009) explains that a work is considered to be plagiarized “if the author uses pronouns such as we/our/ and i/my” to present other peoples ideas from a personal point of view.

This creates the impression that the ideas are the writers own. The WHS English Department (2009) proposes that academic writers should limit the use of personal pronouns only to the third person pronouns in unquoted remarks.

The use of these grammatical features makes a work seem personal expressing a personal rather than a scholarly perspective. They are therefore accused of academic theft: stealing, although unintentionally, of other writers work and presenting them as their own. Their academic writings therefore fail the credibility test.

English academic writing ought to be culturally acceptable within the norms of English writing. For an English essay to qualify as culturally appropriate, it must be “objective, analytical and sequential” (Ha 2009 p 153).

Most of apprentice academic writers especially those from English non-speaking countries are accused of violating this rule. This is because their writing style and language use includes the use of such features as personal pronouns, personal experiences and imperatives.

Their works are said not to be analytical and objective enough as they are written from a personal point of view, rather than a factual point of view and therefore found not to be culturally appropriate.

Students, especially when writing their academic papers, must conform to these rules of objectivity, to be appropriate in the eyes of their professors, who frown upon papers that have a personal touch.

They must write within the examiners definition of appropriateness for their works to be considered academically effective (Ha 2009 p. 135) and culturally polite (p. 136)

Ha says that authors express their personal voice in a piece of writing through “surface structure of the text as well as ideas discussed.” (p 137) The expression of voice is not considered as “strong writing” as it is considered as “self representation.” (p 138).

Apprentice writers use their personal voice in attempting to establish themselves as authoritative figures in academic writing. They argue that a valid academic paper requires “a considerable amount of personal and emotional investment” (Ha p.136). Incorporating personal experiences in an academic paper becomes appropriate for them.

In English academic writing, it is argued that personal experiences are not credible sources of information that qualifies for inclusion in academic writing, and therefore cannot be used as reference. Therefore, they cannot use personal experiences, which are hard to validate, as reference material.

Debate is still going on the relevance of limiting a writer within established norms at the expense of encouraging creativity. Academic writing is moving away from the traditional impersonal writing style to one that allows a writer to vary the writing skills language and style (Chang & Swales 1969).

However, such a move will create a problem is defining what is purely scholarly works that are a result of extensive research. Apprentice writers should not be allowed the freedom to personalize their academic papers, as it will create ambiguous works that border on academic and personal interpretations.

Such works cannot be termed as scholarly, as they lack the necessary objectivity and credibility and the ideas they express cannot apply universally.

Reference List

Brannon L & Knoblauch H, May, 1982. On Students’ Rights to Their Own Texts: A Model of Teacher Response. College Composition and Communication Vol. 33, No. 2 pp. 157-166.

Chang Y. & Swales J. 1969. Informal elements in English Academic Writing: Threats or Opportunities for Advanced Non-native Speakers? In CN Canadin & K Hyland (eds.), Writing Texts, Processes and Paractices, Longman, London, pp 145-167 Stable URL:

Ha P. 2009. Strategic, Passionate, but academic: Am I allowed in my writing? Journal of English for Academic Purposes 8 (2009), pp 134-146.

Muftah A., and Jabr A. 2009. Document plagiarism detection algorithm using semantic networks. Masters thesis, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia University of technology. Web.

WHS English Department 2007, Writing the Research Paper, Watertown High School Students, Massachusetts.

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