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“Our Data Can Serve as a Basis for …”: Adspeak in Russian Scientific English

Abstract

Nonnative scientists writing in English for international publication should try their best to write the “English way.” This means that rather than following the writing conventions of their mother tongues, they should learn and adhere to the conventions accepted in English. The modern English style of communicating science favors a straightforward, clear, and logical line of presentation. It is concerned with readability, clarity, conciseness, and coherence.1 By contrast, writing styles from non-Anglophone cultures such as Russia can be more elaborate and more tolerant of vagueness and wordiness.2 As noted by Yakhontova,3 Slavic texts put greater emphasis on presenting scientific knowledge (“telling”) than on advertising and promoting research (“selling”). This, however, does not mean that Slavic authors are not interested in self-promotion and self-advertisement.3 Indeed, all authors want to “sell” their work, irrespective of the writing culture to which they belong, and that is unobjectionable. What makes a difference is the rhetorical means by which the goal of “selling” is hoped to be achieved. Whereas native English speakers generally seek to promote their work by being as concise and specific as possible, Russians prefer generalized statements that often sound verbose, exaggerated, and low on substance—the kind of statements I call “adspeak.” Despite being used for “selling” purposes, adspeak makes a paper less forceful and may even raise suspicions about the true quality of the authors’ material. This article focuses on adspeak in Russian scientific English but may also be applicable to writers from other languages, especially those languages that have similar […]

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