Friday, February 11, 2011

Another further typical common feature or aspect of scholarly academic articles and monographs in China

They understand and recognise the importance and necessity of never or seldom saying and stating their points and ideas in only one word, but rather of always or as often as possible using two words or phrases of identical or similar meaning together or in quick succession throughout the entire course of their article writing.

You think I'm exaggerating?  Not by much!

The monstrosity I'm currently working on weighed in at 12,500 words.  I think I'm going to bring it in under 5,000.


stuart said...

I'm still traumatised from the favour I did for the head of the Uni's Foreign Affairs Office one summer break in China. A dear friend of his, professor Guo, required some 'minor' changes to a piece of research intended for publication in an English language journal. Would I mind terribly taking a look? No problem, I replied.

That was the longest summer I ever experienced.

Nearly every other sentence included something of the order: "... greatly extra efficient of digging tool shape like mouse claw from nature...". At least half of the content was redundant, and the remainder was a grammatical horror show.

Having given my life to correcting this document and making it sound sufficiently academic to (possibly) warrant a second glance upon submission, prof Guo returned the study to me with virtually all of my corrections undone and the above phrase reinserted ad nauseam.

I'll say this though: related or not, the FAO really looked after me later that year when I broke my elbow playing ping-pong, an injury that required surgery to insert pins.

Froog said...

It's amazing how BAD this stuff can be. And it's not a translation issue ultimately, it's a matter of having any awareness of - or concern for - what constitutes intellectual analysis. There's no peer review system here, so any old shit can get published - in Chinese or English. And nobody ever reads most of it (not critically, anyway), so people keep racking up their academic brownie points for regular publication - even though it is all completely worthless tosh.

The guy I'm working with today has a moderately interesting topic, but fully 50% of his text is extended quotations from the writers he's discussing.

And his typical approach is to make a very vague and general point (in very inept, scarcely comprehensible English, of course), and then to follow it up with a paragraph or two, or a complete poem, from one of the writers in this movement (which, as often as not, don't have anything to do with the point he seemed to be trying to make)... and then he summarizes what the passage/poem has said, and then he quotes again the isolated line or phrase that actually (sometimes, almost) has some bearing on the point he's supposedly making and explains its significance. You know, fella, you could have just used that last step and cut down the length of your article by 80%!

Brownie points are awarded for sheer volume, it would appear.