Pet Peeves of Writing
- Use of contractions
- Use of but, and, or to begin sentences. They are coordinating conjunctions!
- Misuse of the possessive its and of possessive forms in general.
- Use of you. When you write, you are not describing what I do, but what
American or Russian or some specific group does. What do you use as an alternative?
- one. Remember that it is singular. One buys new clothes
- he or she or he/she. Be consistent! He or she buys new
clothes for him or herself.
- Be specific. American...An American person...An
American woman...An American man...American people...Then
refer back to these terms with appropriate pronouns: they,
--Use of rhetorical questions. They do not advance your argument and
simply restate. Move forward! Example: What is the purpose of American dialect
distinctions? Instead, make a clear statement: We will examine the purpose
of American dialect distinctions OR the purpose of American dialect distinctions
is multifacted. It includes:...
- Use of so as a conjunction. So, we might conclude that...This is a conversational
term, not a writing term.
- Use of also as a conjunction. Also, we might conclude that... We might
- Confusion of there and their.
--Careless spelling errors. Spellcheck is a wonderful thing, but it
will not catch errors such as cress for dress or their for there, since those
are all correctly spelled English words.
How to Read—Questions to Ask in Preparation for Class
(and you should have at least one question/comment prepared each day)
--Do I know what the terms used mean in this context?
--Is the argument clear? What are possible counterarguments to the argument,
from any language? Where do I need more explanation to understand what is
being talked about?
--How does this theory B relate to A that we have already discussed? What
assumptions are same? How are the conclusions different?
--This is really interesting. What about it strikes you, sparks your interest?
Writing a Good Linguistics Paper
--Do not make assumptions. Be as specific as you can. While I am an
American, I may not share your vision of what assumptions are made about
dialects or language. You need to spell it out for me--details, details,
--Be sure that you address all facets of the issue and possible counterarguments.
For example, you are being asked to discuss discrimination, cultural presuppositions
and dialects. That requirement suggests that the paper should include a discussion
of these topics in some detail.
--Use supporting material, e.g. specific examples.
--Establish what you want to prove before you begin to write. What
is the main idea/thesis? Where are you going with this topic? What data can
you use to prove your thesis? I do not care if you disagree or agree with
me/your classmates, but you need to argue, so that your points are well-supported.
Do a draft and have someone you can rely on to tell the truth read it for
content and clarity.
- Read and understand the evaluation section of the paper handout. If you
are unsure about something, ask me.