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I’ve always been smart as a monkey. In a bad way; but monkeys need not to take offence. I wasn’t smart enough though to believe that overeducation was a word. It’s not only a word, it’s a thing, as I discovered when I became officially overeducated.

When I completed my completely useless doctorate, I still didn’t believe in overeducation. Today, however, I found myself to be actually afflicted by this condition (not infectious, don’t worry). I received feedback from a publisher from an author whose paper I proofread. The author authorised and encouraged me to fix grammar, style and anything I should find disturbing. I found the paper in its entirety disturbing, so I made a few changes intended to make it more bearable.

The publisher complained of my use of the term negative motivation because he believed it was the same as demotivation. The publisher isn’t Jon Snow, as I far as I know, but he knows nothing. The author furthermore complained of my use of the word susceptible because he didn’t know what that was and believed it was a four-letter word (while it’s clearly an eleven-letter word). And I didn’t even use the term discourse because I didn’t want to be a smartass (for a change).

Meanwhile, I remain, truly yours, intellectually arrogant. The struggle is real.

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Posted by Mara Eastern

I'm a sardonic blogger, snapper, scribbler and rhymer; a virtual space invader who indulges in cheerful negativism, morbid self-deprecation and bleak humour.

33 Comments

  1. As you say, the struggle is real- if we write or proof read for others- we are at their mercy. I have ghost written for first and second year nursing students ( English as Second language) and had been sent corrections, advice and comments about my writing, all in not so complementary terms.
    At that time, I was at their mercy, needing their money.
    But now i realise what a fool I was.
    Susie

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    1. Don’t get me started about ghost writing… It’s hard enough to try to emulate a writing style not your own, and it’s very unrewarding when you get feedback that is less than grateful. Oh well, one has to do something 🙂

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      1. Yeah, to pay the bills.:)

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  2. There were many scary aspects of academic editing. Oy vey! I dropped it in self-defense (except for the ESL). Traumatic!

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    1. That was four or five years before I retired. 25+ years still much too long.

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      1. A life-long trauma!

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    2. ESL is a good choice. I edit all kinds of papers in the humanities, and sadly, even if I know little about the area, I can tell now whether the paper is any good. Of course, I keep my opinions to myself, unless I’m explicitly asked…

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  3. Long live the intelligentsia!

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    1. Haha 😀 I wish there were vaccination for this.

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  4. I love the line “when I completed my completely useless doctorate”. I can unfortunately, completely relate to this. This post has taken the thoughts straight out of my head! Way to go for telling the truth!

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    1. I’m sorry to hear you’re in the same boat but pleased that you take your ordeal with a sense of humour, sort of… What’s your doctorate in? The humanities, I assume? Mine is in English Literature, to make sure that’s really completely useless. I’m not sorry I took it, but I’m bemused by its implications.

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      1. My doctorate is in reproductive biology, but now I work on heart disease. Sounds great, but science jobs and funding is so scarce and pay so crap that everyone is forced to leave at some point. There are no positions to go into. Jut trying to figure out what else I can do without more study (I think 10 years for a useless career was more than enough). Sounds depressing, but doors and other opportunities will always open, just need to be opened minded about it all. No sense in regret.

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        1. Hm, now that is curious. I believed the situation was much better in actually useful fields, like biology. In the humanities, you basically get no post until someone dies. Morbid. But since I’ve spent practically all my life studying, I take it as my way of life now.

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  5. «Intelligentsia» … interesting choice of word. Anyway, reading this makes me happy I’m not afflicted. Well … over-education, that is — nothing wrong with my intelligence.

    This author … uhm, why didn’t he just look up the word ‘susceptible’? Nowadays, when we have the world at our fingertips, the way to Merriam-Webster’s, for example, isn’t all that long.

    In my private correspondence, I _have_ found myself avoiding words I know the reader won’t know.

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    1. I see we all have different degrees and kinds of intelligentsia affliction 😉 That’s reassuring. And precisely as you say, I blame no one for not knowing something, but why won’t they Google what they don’t know? I Google things all the time and I don’t blame the writer but myself when I don’t know something… Now I sound like a righteous jerk. Ha.

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      1. ‘Intelligentsia’ is a word not often used here.

        We’ve talked before about the huge number of words in the English language. We can’t know them all, especially not since we’re second-language-speakers. But today, there’s just no excuse, with all those excellent dictionary tools online. I probably not just _sound_ like one … I AM. Heh!

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        1. Here’s to language nerds! And we are allowed to be even more proud of ourself since English isn’t our first language. So.

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  6. Your intellectual arrogance is one of the things I like best about you. 🙂

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    1. Awe, I can’t say how much I love your comment ❤ I feel almost reassured in my ivory tower. Phew.

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  7. I struggle not to correct the grammar and vocabulary in some of the communications that come home from my sons’ schools. It’s. So. Hard.

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    1. As you say. What upsets me the most is the incompetence of people who should be the most competent. But then, I get upset easily…

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  8. In my 25 years of experience as a translator and editor of academic texts, I would say that the situation you describe occurs in around 5-10% of cases. In some of these, there are genuine issues regarding technical terms or the house-style required by the journal. In others, the original text is irredeemable, although it is impossible for the humble (albeit overeducated) translator or editor to point this out without incurring the authors’ wrath. But, in many cases, we get letters from peer reviewers, written in appalling English, criticizing the grammar of the edited article and suggesting the most absurd ‘corrections.’ This can be very demoralizing, since the translator/editor always bears the brunt of the blame. To a certain extent, one just has to take this on the chin as an unavoidable occupational hazard, but it helps greatly if you work with a close-knit team that has total confidence in you and is prepared to double-check and diplomatically defend your work in cases of obvious injustice.

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    1. Since I already came out as intellectually arrogant, I can claim that most of the texts that I lay my hands on are of low quality. I’m not sure why, but I suppose the academic level in my country is low when compared to the West, so I can see the difference between the papers I read for my research and those I get to read for proofs. It is an unavoidable occupational hazard for sure 😉 I don’t complain (well, I suppose I am), the situation I described just struck me as curious. This particular case was an exception though, because I know the author well and I was encouraged to “improve” the text on a level which would normally be considered interfering.

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  9. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being above-average intelligent and/or educated … although you wouldn’t know it from listening to certain politicians in North America.

    I thought I was a reasonably articulate person, but I did a double-take at negative motivation vs demotivation. I realized I wasn’t clear at all on the difference. So I started my morning with a tour of the dictionary.

    Thank you, I feel a little bit smarter now 🙂

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    1. Let’s not talk about certain politicians in North American or I’ll get suicidal. Like really. I’m sorry to have sent you off to a dictionary the first thing in the morning, I didn’t mean to lecture. It’s just that a person who should know best, since he specialises in the field, turned out to know nothing. Disappointing. And demotivating!

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  10. “when I completed my completely useless doctorate” I hate to think that I spent 2 years writing mine. I am an intellectual snob…could not tell it now after all the years not researching or writing in an academic style. I now write as I write without thought of whether it is correct or incorrect.
    Love to read your blog and all the comments.

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    1. Ha, precisely what you say! I do pay close attention to what I’m doing when writing something professional; but on the blog, I just don’t care. It’s a sort of therapy. I love everyone’s comments on this post, too, I was so surprised that people could relate! I thought it would be a boring topic. Blogging is unpredictable – and so much fun 🙂

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  11. Gee, people are weird. Ask you to do something then give you stick when you do! Not nice.

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    1. Oh well, people are funny but I’m “people” too, so I guess I can’t complain 😉 At least I have bloggable material!

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  12. One bad client mara…next one won’t be so bad

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    1. No, I’m sure the next one won’t be so bad. Only worse! 😉 Ha.

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