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Appropriate language

Appropriate language

Author: Ben Creagh

    Introduce pretentious language and how to avoid it.


    Introduce jargon and how to avoid it.


    Introduce clichés and how to avoid them.


This packet should help a learner seeking to understand English writing styles and who is confused about how to use appropriate language. It will explain how to use appropriate language for academic papers. 

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Pretentious language is using language that is too complicated for the intended audience to understand.  In a way, the word itself begs for a definition. 

This packet will introduce:

-pretentious language and how to avoid it

-jargon and how to avoid it

-clichés and how to avoid them


When writing it is important to know your audience and use a vocabualary that will apeal to their vocabulary.


Source: Ben Creagh

Pretentious Language Mini-lesson

We'll look briefly at what effect pretentious language could have on a writing sample.

Source: and Ben Creagh


A paper or writin may be deemed innappropriate because it has too much jargon in it, and in order to correct this mistake one must know what jargon is.

Jargon is the use of specialized or technical terms specific to a field or concentration.  

When television programs show scenes of a hospital often the actors use medical jargon to sound like they know what they are doing. 

Jargon has it's time and place, but in writing, the audience once again needs to be considered before using jargon. 

Examine these two examples:

1) The patient lost feeling in their foot after the car accident, but everything else was fine with her.

2) The patient lost distal and radia CMS on lower left foot after the direct impact trauma, but otherwise is AOx4.

In example 1, almost all readers would know what the main idea of the sentence is, and that being that a girl lost feeling in their foot after a car accident.  However, the second sentence is filled with medical jargon that makes it very clear what the situation is for someone trained in the medical field, but most people would not understand what is going on in that sentence.

The second sentnece uses jargon, or specialized language specific to medical situations.  If I were wriitng a paper, and used medical jargon I would most likely lose a large percentage of my readers. 

Jargon can be used to intentially confuse people, which we learned about with pretentious language, so we want to avoid that kind of language when possbie. 

It's a good rule of thumb to assume your audience knows about as much as you, but do not assume they know too much because you may use vocabulary that is too technical for them to understand.

Source: Ben Creagh

Clichés: better late than never, right?

While clichés have a time and place, unfortunatly the time and place often is not found in academic writings.  

Using common phrases or sayings in writing is something a good writer will want to avoid in their academic writing. 

Cliché: A phrase or opinion that is overused and betrays a lack of original thought (Google dictionary)

The reason we want to avoid using clichés in academic writing is because it tends to be ambigiuous and can come off as colloquial.


What are common clichés?

Raining cats and dogs:  A very hard rain

To fall head over heels:  To fall in love



Source: google dictionary and Ben Creagh


The main thing to think about when writing an academic entry is to know your audience, and choose your vocabulary appropriately. 

We need to change the way we write to adjust to our audience just like we do when we speak.  If I were talking to the young infant in the picture, would I expect her to understand something like, "Henceforth the principle objective of this lesson has been completed?"  No, but she may understand something like, "All done."

Hopefully this helps clarify what is meant by using appropriate language in academic writings. 

Source: Ben Creagh