The prolific commentator Fareed Zakaria is a careless writer. That is a safe statement. To say Zakaria is a plagiarist is a bit more problematic. His past writing is rife with unattributed borrowing, the kind that would get an undergraduate essayist in trouble but maybe not brought before an academic misconduct hearing.
At what point does lazy copy-and-paste writing and sloppy attribution warrant the label plagiarist?
The Associated Press Stylebook sent a summary of recent updates to its online subscribers this week, the first since March. The nine new or updated entries were mostly routine (jack-o’-lantern is so spelled), but there was at least one change of significance:
justify: Smith justified his actions means Smith demonstrated that his actions were right. If the actions are still controversial, say Smith sought to justify his actions.
The language wars are alive and strong, and Steven Pinker is in the middle of them this week. Pinker, a psychologist and cognitive scientist, wrote The Language Instinct, about the acquisition of language, 20 years ago. Now, he offers advice on what to do with language once you’ve acquired it in The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century.
Ben Zimmer, perhaps the most prolific commentator on the state of our language, is the obvious first choice for the Linguistic Society of America’s new Linguistics Journalism Award. The honor was announced Wednesday.
There is little debate with the statement that academic writing is too often bad writing. Academicians sometimes rail against the state of scholarly prose, and their fellow academics nod and shrug and go back to publishing thick pieces read by peer reviewers and few others.