When Editing Is a Breath of Fresh Air

You know you’ve been in school too long when you write a sentence like the following:

Patients are more willing to discuss advance directives with those with whom they have a trusting, longitudinal relationship and ongoing relational continuity

That sentence is a marvel of many things that are wrong with academic writing. We have a human relationship described as “longitudinal,” which shows an overreliance on scientific diction. The social sciences are the worst because they always has to prove that they are a science. I can’t tell you how many students I’ve had stare at me in utter horror when I tell them that instead of using the simple, direct, and accurate “I” to describe their methods, they have to use the disingenuous and clunky “the researcher.” You’d think I torture kittens for a living.

And then we have “ongoing relational continuity,” which is so unnecessarily full of euphemisms that it can only be of a corporate origin. (Any organization that can now be legally treated as a person is bound to do some damage to our language.)

The reader who submitted this not so graciously suggested that the [curse word redacted] author might have written instead:

 …with whom they have a trusting, long-term relationship

Now that’s an improvement! In the words of the Cowboy Junkies, I feel better now, do you?


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