Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Grammar Rant

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Okay. One of my syllabi contains this sentence:

"The efficiency of this cooling conductive response (immediate- minutes, highlights the danger of cold water emersion."
(This is the exact grammar and spelling, without any alterations.)

I honestly do not understand how a medical school professor could write that sentence. I would actually have to turn off spell-check and grammar-check AND forget the definitions of “emerge” and “immerse” in order to write that sentence. It's barely decipherable (if it’s decipherable at all).

A different lecture contains this statement: “50% of the human population experiences changes in temperature due to the menstrual cycle.” Okay… is that 50% of the total population, as stated, or is it 50% of the eligible population, meaning menstruating women? Or is it 50% of women, including women that haven't reached menarche and women that have reached menopause? What a fantastically useless sentence.  (And this isn't a direct jab at the author of either lecture, because every syllabus for every subject is FULL of errors and obscurities like this.)

Maybe this is my literary/philosophical side bubbling to the surface, but I sometimes get angry when I find bad syntax, poor grammar and blatant errors in my syllabi... What is the point of being intelligent if you can't communicate what you think? It's like a genius having locked-in syndrome. What is the value of a person's knowledge when he or she can't construct a sentence?

Maybe I’ll just slam them on my course review later this month with this scathing quote:

“The scholar always needs skills of communication, since he does not possess his knowledge for himself, but rather for society.”
- Johann Gottlieb Fichte, “Fourth Lecture: Concerning the Scholar’s Vocation” 

Please feel free to comment and share your grammar horror stories, medical or otherwise.

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