43 votes

Is the language of The Economist artificially complex?

The Economist is a serious publication. Its stated mission is: “to take part in a severe contest between intelligence, which presses forward, and an unworthy, timid ignorance obstructing our ...
JeremyC's user avatar
  • 5,668
27 votes

Is the language of The Economist artificially complex?

Yes, The Economist is difficult, but whether it is demanding will depend on what other prose you consume on a regular basis, and how much of it. I do not find it gratuitously abstruse in the way I do ...
choster's user avatar
  • 17.7k
26 votes
Accepted

Is the language of The Economist artificially complex?

Yes, the prose feels "artificially complex" because it's "literary nonfiction." Your frustration is completely understandable. You can read sophisticated scientific publications and absorb ...
Logical Fallacy's user avatar
24 votes

Should All or Most Words in a Stack Overflow/Stack Exchange Question be Capitalized?

No. The title of a question is not like a book title, but more like a sectional heading. It should be written as a sentence and use sentence case. Title case is used in such thing as titles of books. ...
James K's user avatar
  • 219k
20 votes

I (have) never asked that question before. - Americans sometimes drop the "have"?

At least for these statements, this isn't a matter of using simple past to mean present perfect. Using simple past associates the statements with some sort of scope. For example, "I never said ...
user2357112's user avatar
19 votes
Accepted

Are some contractions more OK than others depending on formality of the text in English?

There isn't any rule that says you have to consistently use the same contractions throughout your text. Even in informal speech, native speakers may not be consistent. In fact, it isn't even a rule ...
Astralbee's user avatar
  • 101k
18 votes

Is the language of The Economist artificially complex?

This writing is intended to show the high education level of the writer, and it's also very dense. For example, in the first sentence, SEPAHUA, a ramshackle town on the edge of Peru's Amazon ...
The Photon's user avatar
  • 10.4k
17 votes
Accepted

Can there be a "handwritten paper"?

Actually "handwritten paper" is fine, although in this case "paper" does not mean the physical material but rather a school essay or other written assignment. See definition 4 or 7 here. Example: ...
Andrew's user avatar
  • 88.3k
14 votes

Is the language of The Economist artificially complex?

The above example is not a complex one the context neither in vocabulary. But its sentences are composed in an unnatural way. So the question is: Are any native speakers with a bachelor degree ...
Gossar's user avatar
  • 736
13 votes

Is the language of The Economist artificially complex?

The Economist is an older newspaper that transformed into a magazine. Like most magazines in the Age of the Internet it also offers its articles on a website. The Economist publishes a 200+ page ...
m_a_s's user avatar
  • 1,494
13 votes

Should All or Most Words in a Stack Overflow/Stack Exchange Question be Capitalized?

Use of capitals in titles is much more common in the US than in Britain; I've no idea what the conventions are in other countries. In the UK, people find the typography of headlines in US newspapers (...
Michael Kay's user avatar
  • 1,387
13 votes
Accepted

"A and B and C" or "A, B, C"

Normally "A, B, and C" (and the comma after B is optional - see "Oxford comma") Sometimes "A and B and C" can be used rhetorically: it can add emphasis to "C" ...
James K's user avatar
  • 219k
11 votes

Is the language of The Economist artificially complex?

No Here's the same passage written plainly. Sepahua is a ramshackle town on the edge of Peru's border in the Amazon jungle. It's situated behind a fork of two rivers, the Sepahua, with which it ...
user70585's user avatar
  • 239
9 votes

Is the language of The Economist artificially complex?

The sentences are complex, with multiple clauses and modifiers, but they're mostly pretty straight forward. The most confusing thing about the passage you quote is that it first says "a ramshackle ...
Acccumulation's user avatar
9 votes

Is the language of The Economist artificially complex?

For what it's worth, as a native English speaker with a Bachelor's degree in IT-related gubbins, I find the quoted text to be perfectly natural and easy to read. I detect no artificiality about it. ...
Lightness Races in Orbit's user avatar
8 votes

I (have) never asked that question before. - Americans sometimes drop the "have"?

English speakers especially Americans sometimes use simple past to mean present perfect, is that true? Yes. Indeed, many Americans don't internally make a significant psychological distinction ...
ohwilleke's user avatar
  • 860
7 votes

Should All or Most Words in a Stack Overflow/Stack Exchange Question be Capitalized?

You are asking this on a language-related SE site, but in addition to language, this could be seen as a question about the customs on SE. (Along with such questions as "should one include 'Hello' ...
ilkkachu's user avatar
  • 761
7 votes

"A and B and C" or "A, B, C"

It's uncommon and usually poor style to have a list of more than two things all separated by "and". However, in this case, "room and board" is a single idiomatic expression, often ...
gotube's user avatar
  • 49.7k
7 votes

Are some contractions more OK than others depending on formality of the text in English?

I think there's another aspect that others haven't mentioned — there are some contractions that are considered nonstandard in writing. Often these are double contractions — for instance, in casual ...
Muzer's user avatar
  • 970
6 votes
Accepted

Acknowledging someone had an impact on your choice of career

There are many ways to express this, but to focus on the ways that use the words and expressions in your example: "To a large extent" is fine. It's a standard idiom that means "mostly" and works in ...
Andrew's user avatar
  • 88.3k
6 votes
Accepted

"In which time" is correct as well as "in what time"?

The correct usage is "At what time will the class start tomorrow?" You could also say "When does the class start tomorrow?" That is more colloquial. "At what time..." is more correct but a little ...
Mick's user avatar
  • 6,526
5 votes
Accepted

Numbers: ordinals and cardinals

English puts the cardinal after the word 'size', like a size seven hat. So for the first example, the correct expression is size forty-two: Can I have size forty-two? For your other example, both ...
Glorfindel's user avatar
  • 14.8k
5 votes
Accepted

Is using unnecessarily long words bad practice?

Depending on the context, using a "long" word correctly is fine. Using a long word gratuitously, on the other hand, often sounds pretentious. Your first sentence is not that long, nor does it use ...
Andrew's user avatar
  • 88.3k
5 votes
Accepted

Can 's express plural?

This is a matter of style. In an interesting 2010 blog post that touched on this topic, one writer quoted from the style guide of the New York Times: Use apostrophes for plurals of abbreviations ...
J.R.'s user avatar
  • 110k
5 votes

Is the language of The Economist artificially complex?

Whether a text will be found difficult or not to understand depends on the interplay between reader factors and text factors. Reader factors include proficiency in the language of the text, ...
Shoe's user avatar
  • 3,015
5 votes

Are some contractions more OK than others depending on formality of the text in English?

In a context where the level of formality allows the use of contractions, it's not necessary to do anything consistently, and that includes the use of contractions.
gotube's user avatar
  • 49.7k
5 votes
Accepted

Is the suffix "-wise" in the sense 'relating to' really informal?

This is to a large extent, a matter of style. Compounds, hyphenated or not, in the form noun-wise are often used informally, as most dictionaries advise. A few, related to manner or direction, have no ...
Michael Harvey's user avatar
5 votes

I (have) never asked that question before. - Americans sometimes drop the "have"?

Yes and No. It's not so much that Americans use the Simple Past to mean the Present Perfect. It's that we often aren't noticing (or focusing on) the connection with the present at all. It indicates ...
David's user avatar
  • 206
4 votes

Can there be a "handwritten paper"?

This question manufactures a problem where none exists. The only issue one might have with "a handwritten paper" is with a paper, which, in the sense of "a sheet of paper, a document", is something ...
TimR's user avatar
  • 124k

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