Thursday, May 12, 2016

Second Language Descriptions

Many cultures around the world eat insects, so any study of these practices involves reading research from a great variety of locations. Fortunately for me, English seems to be the main language of research; many of the papers I'm reading were either translated into English or written in English by people for whom it is a second or third language. I very much enjoy reading these papers because while they have the same tendency towards facts and the scientific method, the language used is often less clinical and more engaging than in papers by people used to reading and writing boring things in English such as this explanatory paragraph.

My favorite quote yet comes from an Indian researcher: "Although man suffers and benefits from the insect legions ... the suffering outweighs the benefits." I personally would have never thought to describe insects as legion, but it gives the paper's introduction an exciting sci-fi feel, and the dramatic discussion of man's suffering doesn't hurt either. Given the technical correctness of the actual content of this paper, I don't see why science writing can't be a little less frigid.

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