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Why is it important to use appropriate academic language?

The words writers choose reflect the formality or informality of the rhetorical situation. Academic writing often calls for the use of formal diction, in contrast to the less formal language of everyday conversation. The use of conversational language and informal tone—writing as we speak—in academic papers is often too casual and may weaken the credibility of the writer. On the other hand, the use of language that is pompous or stuffy can make the writing sound overly complex. Utilizing language appropriate to the academic context can help to create balanced communication between writer and reader.

How can informal or overly formal language be revised?

  • Replace slang or colloquial (conversational) terms with precise, conventional language.
  • Replace informal conversational language with academically-focused language; the use of third-person point of view and appropriate terminology can often help with this process.
  • Simplify language that may come across as pompous or stuffy.

Let’s look at an example:

  • Informal: When he talked about the BP Oil Spill, President Obama dropped names to impress his audience. (casual, conversational language)
  • Pompous: Communicating with the municipal group concerning the petrol company’s misfortunate escape of emollient, President Obama alludes to erudite scientific scholars and research communities so as to institute a sense of trust amongst his supporters. (pompous, stuffy)
  • Formal: In his speech regarding the BP Oil Spill, President Obama referenced knowledgeable scientists and research groups in order to establish credibility with his audience. (appropriate academic language) 

For further information on academic language: