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Monday, September 29, 2003

 
Uppity Youngster
Not to seem like an ungrateful neophyte disrespectful of tradition, but honestly, reading all these linguistics articles is not impressing me with the wonder of scientific writing. History, my erstwhile concentration from the halcyon days at Grinnell, is a field likewise based on research, certainly, and yet, the writing is so much less annoying to read. The secret?

Footnotes.

Yes, footnotes. There is nothing more distracting or annoying than a huge line, or even a short one, of parenthetical citation. Why can't these linguists just put their citations at the bottom of the page like sane people? There is no reason that I want to read their long lists of all the people who wrote things on the subject before them, usually in groups, all in different years. That's what a works cited list is for. What I want to read, or at least what I'm supposed to read, is the content of their research article. If I'm spending all my time wading through citations, it's just going to break all train of thought and flow of narrative, or at least coherency. What's more, it makes me skip over all parenthetical comments, whether they contain content or citation. It's so annoying!

Footnotes, people. Use footnotes.

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