Tuesday, October 10, 2006

international student difficulties

two quick questions for my friends east of the Atlantic ocean

1) do english (and other european) academic writings share our Canadian fear of passive sentences in papers? my writing today is pissing off Microsoft Word with its excessive use of the passive voice, but I really don't feel like adding any more subjects to my sentences. besides, what does MS Word know anyway? it already hates me for ignoring its attempts to turn latin into english, so why should it be any nicer to me about all those passives?

and 2, (on a purely frivolous note) do you have pumpkins in England? I don't remember seeing any there last year, and vaguely remember my mother saying something about carving turnips as a child in Ireland because squash (the vegetable, not the drink) is an american thing. is that true or am i just really unobservant?

7 comments:

ysolda said...

1) I think it depends on how you use it - I've never felt that it was a problem unless it obscured your meaning. Writing that totally avoids the passive voice can seem pretty stilted. I tend to ignore Word's grammar checker a lot - it gets a bit crazy sometimes. I'm not known for my wonderful grammar and clarity, however, so perhaps you shouldn't be listening to me.

2) we get pumpkins in Scotland - they're a lot more common now than when I was a little kid but they're mostly sold for carving rather than eating. We did carve turnips though , and as my last comment made abundantly clear don't eat much pumpkin. We do have other kinds of squash though.

Knitting Mama said...

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Knitted Cupcakes (Secret Pal) said...

Hi Glenda
1. It's not generally advised where possible, but like ysolda said, sometimes it can read badly if there's none at all, or if you've jusr re-worded a sentence for the sake of it. I ignore Word's grammar checker a lot too.
2. Yes, you can get pumpkins in England and Ireland, but the carvable ones are only really around at the moment, and more for the novelty of carving them than eating. Butternut squashes are around the whole time.

Flossie said...

Hi Glenda

I agree, we do have the orange pumpkins, but they tend to be for carving rather than eating, and butternut sqaush have become more and more popular for eating. Also, other smaller round squash that I can't remember the name of.

Mmm, I think I need to cook a butternut squash, I love them!

Alice x

Impressionist said...

Yeah, I carved a pumpkin from Tesco last year- you won't find the big mama pumpkins that you get in N. America, but you can get 'em. My advice is NOT to put them on your windowsill above your radiator, though. My efforts at carving the perfect Jack o Lantern ended with a two-day old rotting pumpkin caving in on the windowsill. Wahhhhh.

PURLPOWER said...

Everyone's already answered you, but here's my two penneth:

1. Passive voice should mostly be avoided because there is usually a more direct way of saying what you wish to say. However, it doesn't have to be totally removed from you work as sometimes varying the construction of your sentences can make the work more readable. IMO. Word Grammar is a pain in the arse. I prefer giving my work to others who are better at grammar than I am, if you are fortunate to be blessed with such friends I recommend sucking up to them with muchos knitted gifts, chocolates and wine. Only give them the wine AFTER they have checked your paper. Ho ho.

2. Yes we have pumpkins but they don't grow as well here as they do abroad and hence you don't see them so much as in the States/Canada. I don't know if the carving of them is an American tradition but I suspect it is and like trick or treating has caught on a bit more here through the influence of films and TV.

Polly said...

I remember my Irish husband really be thrilled when he moved here and was able to carve a pumpkin.