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Circumlocution

Three entries in a day. You can tell it's paper-writing time.

The sister of a friend of mine commented recently on the idea of circumlocution, which is defined as "The use of many words to express an idea that might be expressed by few; indirect or roundabout language."

The big-headed scholarly world I live in pretty much lives by this idea. Therefore, by necessity of survival I have to employ this skill or I would have to actually write twenty pages of real ideas for every paper. But, unfortunately for many it goes beyond a "getting assignments done" activity and actually becomes a part of how they function, especially for many scholars who write for academic journals. Here is a snippet from the introduction of an article I am using for research at the moment:

"To begin this study, I will delineate the term eschatology and will indicate how this word is used herein. I will then turn to consider the aforementioned eschatological texts in their canonical sequence."

What would make as much sense and read much better? "I'll start by talking about what the word eschatology means, and then explain these verses in order."

The only problem is that if academic theologians actually said what they mean, the practice would virtually eliminate itself and the ones left wouldn't have much to do. Most scholarly journals would become about 1/4 as long and many would disappear altogether.

But, circumlocution is alive and well, which keeps our libraries bulging and our scholars and grad students busy.


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