English Test Preparation
The British distinguish further between true abbreviations (such as diam., formed from the front part of a word, and requiring a period) and suspensions (such as Mr or dept, formed by removing the interior of the word, and in Great Britain used without periods). This British distinction has not caught on in the United States, but the general move to omit periods is becoming increasingly widespread. Periods are disappearing throughout the English language as it evolves. The best all-purpose rule is be consistent.
Considered by many to be the premier English-language general encyclopedia. The writing is scholarly and therefore sometimes difficult to understand in a subject area with which you're unfamiliar. Articles in the Micropaedia are short and fact-filled, while the Macropaedia has long articles surveying broad aspects of a topic. Very extensive list of bibliographic references at the end of each article so you can find additional information.
Use a dictionary when you write so that people don't need to have one on hand when they read what you've written. Be especially careful about words that look similar but mean different things. The English language contains a great number of words that are commonly misused or mistaken for each other. Some commonly encountered devil pairs are given below. This list is only a beginning, and no substitute for a good dictionary.
To avoid charges of prejudice and insensitivity, language and visual aids must be accurate, clear, and free from bias. Just as you have learned to check what you write for spelling and grammar, practice reading over your work for bias. Cultivate at least three kinds of awareness (1) noting potential bias in the kinds of observations and characterization being made (2) recognizing the impact of various value-laden terms and (3) being sensitive to certain biases that are inherent in the structure of the English language.
We may know much about the proper structuring of a paper and correct spelling of words, but this does not suffice to produce a compelling manuscript. Ultimately, the power of our text hinges on the competent use of the English language. If your native tongue does not happen to be English, using proper and powerful grammar may be more difficult, but even if you are a native English speaker, you may occasionally struggle with English grammar and its proper use in scientific writing. Here, our focus is clearly on the use of the English language to convey scientific messages to the learned audience. Because good scientific writing requires proper use of the English language, we will, however, have to look at some aspects of grammar. This section addresses some typical questions of grammar and usage in connection with scientific writing. The section is by no means exhaustive it merely focuses on the topics I consider most troublesome, and whose proper handling will add the greatest power...
The spelling of English is erratic and often illogical. Thus, for a non-native speaker of English, correct spelling is difficult to learn and requires constant reading of English-language material and intensive study of the subject. Words in medical, scientific, and technical texts must be spelled correctly (see also 2.3, The BASO Pyramid of Scientific Writing). Erroneous spelling is a mark of illiteracy or at least carelessness. Even if we accept that good spelling may be a talent not every good scientist can call his or her own, there is no justification for spelling deficiencies. Q Do not hyphenate Latin expressions or non-English-language phrases used in an adjectival sense, e.g., in vivo experiments, an a priori argument, postmortem findings. Multiple sclerosis-like symptoms, Krebs-Henseleit-buffered solution, post-World War II, non-English-language journals of the English language, the general move towards using periods in Mr and Dr is becoming increasingly widespread. The...
Several grammar and punctuation rules have changed since you learned them in English class, and in order to produce professional writing, you need to be aware of the new criteria. The answers to the five questions that follow serve as guidelines to help you use up-to-date standards in your business writing. The five questions are
Many words from other languages have been incorporated into the English language. In many cases, this happened so long ago that we no longer even recognize their foreign origin. These words seldom are an issue. The problem comes when words and phrases that are recognizably foreign are used primarily as affectation, to impress readers rather than to make an idea clearer than its English language equivalent would.
Most native speakers of English consider they speak and write 'standard English', or 'the Queen's English', or at least 'good English'. However, even Welsh linguist, David Crystal, the world's most respected living authority on the English language, says 'standard English', the 'Queen's English', and 'good English' do not exist Not in dictionaries, not in books, not in people's mouths. Instead we all speak and write with regional differences. Each of these different dialogues are labeled by those who are educated and live in English-speaking countries as 'standard English', or 'the Queen's At present North American English seems to prevail over British English in international communication. Probably this has occurred due to economic and technological advantages, but it may be simply due to numbers. The population of the United States is four to five times the population of the United Kingdom, so on that basis alone we could expect more language innovation from the American side. In...
Provides some insight into how capable a student is in the English language. It's the first thing that jumps out when you read it, but it's the at that stage is, again some insight into how the student thinks, what sort of clarity of purpose he has into one or more research areas. More serious mistakes come in composing English language sentences and paragraphs students sometimes write sentences that aren't cogent and don't hang together. Probably more than half our applicants are nonnative English speakers, so we see varying degrees of skill in English. However, the worst examples of English language usage are not confined to the nonnative English language speakers. We get many applicants from the United States for whom English is clearly a serious obstacle. The statement gives us an opportunity to see how well a student can express himself, both in forming thoughts and in using the English language. Like it or not, we conduct our classes in English, our publications (with very few...
The form of the essays can be important, as well as the content. How applicants handle the English language is important the ability to articulate their thoughts in a clear and concise way. In a school with a surplus of qualified candidates, decisions are made for reasons that can t be reduced to numbers or facts in some formulaic way. Essays help our Admissions Committee do what it must do, which is to reach reasoned, yet ultimately subjective, judgments. You will find if you inquire from school to school that the importance of the essays increases as the selectivity of the admissions process increases.
Prose convinces the reader that the writer can handle the English language. He can be trusted. That sense of trust helps the reader suspend disbelief and enter into the world of the story. If this guy can write prose this smooth, goes the articulated-or-not reasoning, it's worth seeingwhether he can also tell a good story, or raise interesting questions, or make me think and feel something beyond my usual experiences. I'll read on.
Back matter, too, varies from book to book. Webster's Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary, for instance, discusses punctuation in its back matter and includes lists of famous persons, of important places, and of colleges in the United States and Canada. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language does not cover punctuation but includes people and places in the general word list. 1. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (Houghton Mifflin Company) The Random House College Dictionary, Revised Edition (Random House) Webster's New World Dictionary, Second College Edition (Simon and Schuster) Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary (G. & C. Merriam Company) Webster's II New Riverside University Dictionary (Houghton Mifflin Company). The second example comes from The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (see pages 340-345).
In many ways, scientific English in your chosen field of study could be considered to be a dialect of the English language (Montgomery, 2003), and learning to write this dialect proceeds much like learning to speak a foreign language. Although one can attempt to memorize words and rules, the fastest learning occurs by imitation and observation. Success comes from studying examples of proper use and trying to emulate them. At the same time, recognize that cultures differ in their attitudes toward material taken directly from other people's writing. As Day and Gastel (2006) bluntly put it, In English-language scientific papers for international journals, authors are required to use their own wording for the vast majority of what they say and to clearly designate any wording taken from elsewhere.
Rarely, a new scientific discovery truly justifies adding a new word to the language if this happens, define the word carefully at its first mention in the document. Usually a little thought and dictionary work will produce an equivalent word that already exists in the English language. The work of translating a scientific paper is difficult enough without putting these additional stumbling blocks in the path of the foreign reader.
Eliza both Borriman, Diroctor English Language Institute Central Michigan University Mt. Pleasant Ml 48859 U.S.A. Lisa A. Rumisek thanks Lisa von Relcbbauer, instructor in the English language Institute at Central Michigan University and the students in the Intensive English program who kindly helped pilot many of the exercises in the book and provided helpful comments and suggestions. Special thanks to Lewis Lansford and David Williamson.
I'm sitting here right now, and my heart is pounding, because I know that what I am going to say is going to anger some of you. And I also know I'm going to say it anyway, because it's important, and you need to hear it. You especially need to hear it if you think that 'differently abled' is an appropriate synonym for 'crippled,' or that 'appearance-challenged' is a better use of the English language than 'ugly.' Or if you buy into the nonsense that 'herstory' is a correct noun for 'revisionist history where women are the heroes.' not all the same. We are fat and thin and skinny we are smart and stupid, geniuses and retards we are straight and queer and everything in between we are sick and healthy we are tall and short we are moral and immoral, good and evil we are honest and we are liars. We come in two sexes, male and female, and no matter what current Women's studies classes say, women are not inherently better or purer or more noble than men and no matter what the old guard at...
Good writers are good plotters, although they seldom let a preconceived plot take such complete command of a story that it stiffens the characters and forces them into artificial situations. Mark Twain, one of the best writers America has produced, penned a marvelous essay about writing titled Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offenses. It is funny, pointed, and contains more good advice about writing than any other sixteen pages in the English language.
The English language, especially in science, has moved rapidly to the acceptance of acronyms and abbreviations. This seems to be part of the move toward quicker recognition and faster comprehension. Note that the brain comprehends at a far greater speed than eyes can move over print.
You will need help in order to edit your paper well. Few successful writers of science edit alone. In fact few of them even write alone. They write in teams and edit for each other. No one writes or edits well enough to work alone The English language is too slippery. You need other eyes and minds to help you. Most scientists edit with a colleague some with two colleagues although working with more than two others can create more chaos than help.
You also spent some time studying, usually in English class, another kind of highly structured language often called imaginative or creative. Poetry, fiction, drama, essay, and song are the genres usually associated with imaginative language. This kind of language tries to do something different from strictly communicative language something to do with art, beauty, play, emotion, and personal expression something difficult to define or measure, but often easy to recognize. We sometimes know something is a poem or a play simply by the way it looks on a page, while with a story or essay, we may not.
Our educational system installed this internal editor when we were kids in English class. You and I were taught to watch our spelling, grammar, punctuation, logic, sentence structure, and so on. We were made so cautious of mistakes that we actually became paranoid. We made Mr. Editor our trusted friend and advisor and let him run the show whenever we picked up a pen to write.
The form poems we will discuss in this chapter had their origins in France, typically in the fourteenth century, or were introduced into Europe through France. That means they do not naturally suit the English language. Consequently, these forms which tend to operate on only a few rhymes or which repeat entire lines are considered the most difficult to compose.
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