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Academic Vocabulary


There have been many attempts to define what exactly academic vocabulary is. Many people think that academic vocabulary is more difficult than general English vocabulary. However, academic vocabulary is not necessarily difficult vocabulary using academic words is more a question of finding appropriate language, in a suitable style, than anything else.

An important feature of English academic writing is a tendency to choose more formal alternative when selecting words of different parts of speech.


English academic style makes use of formal verbs, often of Latin origin. In Ukrainian textbooks, such verbs are usually referred to as "general scientific verbs" ( ). Among the most frequently used verbs are as follows:


to apply make practical use of to affect have an influence on, act on to clarify make clear to complete finish to emerge appear to focus on concentrate on to indicate point to neglect pay no attention to to obtain get to occur happen to perform do to produce make to require demand to suppose guess, take as a fact



Collocations are relatively stable word-combinations that occur regularly. Their knowledge and appropriate use is very important for successful academic writing in English:

to give rise to burning issues to take into account to shed light to submit the paper preliminary results integral part hotly debated issue theoretical framework reliable sources and data        


Logical connectors

Logical connectors (transitional expressions) are linking words and phrases which establish the logical relationship between ideas within a sentence or between sentences. They also improve the flow of writing, that is a smooth movement from one idea or piece of information in a text to the text. Logical connectors are thus guideposts for readers that help them to better follow the text. As transitional expressions show various kinds of logical relations, they may be grouped according to their meaning and function. For example, they may perform functions of comparison, concession, conclusion, contrast, enumeration, illustration, intensification.

Latin Expressions

Like other European languages, academic English makes use of Latin abbreviations and expressions. You must have also met some of them while reading Ukrainian academic texts, where such expressions are easy to notice, because they are often written in the Roman alphabet. In English texts, such expressions (rather than abbreviations) are sometimes given in italics.


Latin Abbreviations

Expression Full form Modern meaning
A.D. Anno Domini in the year of our Lord
a.m. ante meridiem before noon
cf. confer compare
e.g. exempli gratia for example
etc. et cetera and other things; and so on
i.e. id est that is to say
N.B. nota bene take note
p.m. post meridiem after noon


Latin Expressions

Expression Meaning
a priori reasoning that precedes the experience
a posteriori reasoning based on past experience
ab ovo from the beginning
ad infinitum without limit; forever
errata list of errors, misprints, etc. in a printed book
post factum after something has happened


New Lexical Tendencies in English

There are some new tendencies in the use of English you need to be aware of even though they affect the language in general. Knowledge of them is especially important for those who perform research in humanities and social sciences.

The first tendency considered here is the so-called politically correct language. This tendency, characteristic mostly of American English, consists in the use of euphemisms (mild, vague, and indirect words or phrases) that soften accurate meanings in accordance with sociopolitical values. Some examples of "politically correct" American English are as follows:

Blacks, Negroes Afro-Americans
Indians Native Americans
foreign students international students
poor marginalized
handicapped or differently abled
stupid intellectually disadvantaged


The second tendency consists in the avoidance of unnecessary distinctions based on sex in language use. These distinctions are called sexist language. The proper understanding of this important for the Western societies tendency may not be easy for Ukrainians and other speakers of Slavic languages, in which grammar is strongly affected by the category of gender. Thus, to avoid sexist language masculine pronouns sentences are transformed into the plural. Occasionally, if all else fails, he/she or him/her are used. Careful writers also avoid designating sex with suffixes like man and ess and substitute nonsexist terms, e.g.:

Gendered Gender-free
postman postal agent
chairman chairperson
landlord landowner
manmade synthetic
poetess poet
air hostess flight attendant
policeman police officer


Date: 2015-01-02; view: 1412

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ENGLISH ACADEMIC WRITING | Academic Grammar and Punctuation
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