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44 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 ...
  • 5,644
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 ...
  • 17.6k
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 ...
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. ...
  • 171k
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 ...
  • 83.7k
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 ...
  • 10.1k
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: ...
  • 87.4k
15 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 ...
  • 736
14 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 ...
  • 1,506
13 votes
Accepted

Should there be a comma in "In this talk, I will …"?

The choice is entirely up to you. Usually, a comma is placed after an introductory adverbial (here: in this talk) if that adverbial is long. By placing a comma you then improve the readability of your ...
  • 5,062
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 (...
  • 1,109
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" ...
  • 171k
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 ...
  • 239
10 votes
Accepted

How can I ask "What's up" in aristocratic style?

The historically accurate answer. The common 19th century way to ask "what's been happening?" or "what is new?" or "what is the latest news?" is one of the following: "What news?" (Read it again, no ...
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 ...
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. ...
7 votes

How does a native speaker choose one word over its synonym(s)?

An in-depth answer to this question could probably fill a book; I'm just going to scratch the surface. As native speakers (of any language, certainly not just English) learn their language, they form ...
  • 2,545
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' ...
  • 750
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 ...
  • 32.7k
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 ...
  • 900
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 ...
  • 6,486
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 ...
  • 87.4k
5 votes

How does a native speaker choose one word over its synonym(s)?

Even though we call two words "synonyms", it is rare for two words to mean EXACTLY the same thing. Words have "connotations" -- subtle differences in meaning. An example of this that I remember from ...
  • 59.1k
5 votes
Accepted

Is using "while" instead of "whereas" discouraged in academic writing?

Both while and whereas are perfectly fine in academic writing. The important thing to remember, is that while has another meaning relating to time. It says that one action takes place at the same time ...
5 votes

How does a native speaker choose one word over its synonym(s)?

The main reason OP doesn't see any difference between acquire and his list of possible alternatives is simply that he's not a competent native speaker. Obvious "synonyms" not present in OP's list ...
5 votes

Should there be a comma in "In this talk, I will …"?

It is permissible to omit the comma after a brief introductory element if the omission does not result in confusion or hesitancy in reading. If there is ever any doubt, use the comma, as it ...
  • 2,893
5 votes

"He became, as the Guinness Book of World Records called him" - is it okay to repeat the pronoun?

It's entirely okay, grammatically, to repeat the pronoun there, and in fact given the rest of the sentence it's required: the only way to avoid he+him is to rephrase to avoid "called". CopperKettle ...
  • 9,432
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 ...
  • 14.7k
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 ...
  • 87.4k
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 ...
  • 109k

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