Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Topic: Clarity in Writing

10-second review: Ideas might be unclear because the writer is suggesting new ideas. Even jargon is permissible in order to express ideas precisely as understood by both writer and reader who are specialists in the field.

Title: “The Ruse of Clarity.” I Barnard. College Composition and Communication (February 2010), 434-451.

Comment: The author suggests that legitimate reasons exist for ideas when the writer is charged with problems in clarity. Perhaps we need to ask, “Why is the idea unclear?” when we are about to charge the writer with a problem in clarity instead of simply labeling it “unclear” and letting the writer figure out how to satisfy the teacher’s lack of understanding. Maybe asking “Why?” will legitimize what seems to be an obvious problem in clarity.

I have always believed that when the reader does not understand, it is the writer’s responsibility to make the idea clear. I don’t accept jargon—except in professional English education journals. I don’t expect it in those journals either, but it’s hopeless. The use of jargon when we are charged with teaching students how to write clearly is an oxymoron. RayS.

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