High (or Grand);
Middle (or Medium); and
characterized by fancy, old-fashioned or specialized vocabulary, high-flying
phrases and grand-sounding sentences. An example might be the King
James Bible, e.g. “And the LORD called
unto Moses, and spake unto him out of the tabernacle
of the congregation, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto
them, If any man of you bring an offering unto the LORD, ye shall bring your
offering of the cattle, even of
the herd, and of the flock.” (Leviticus
Some experts also
include highly technical writing under “high style,” e.g. “In
this paper we discuss a new approach to the quasinormal-mode problem in general
relativity. By combining a characteristic formulation of the perturbation
equations with the integration of a suitable phase-function for a complex
valued radial coordinate, we reformulate the standard outgoing-wave boundary
condition as a zero Dirichlet condition” (http://xxx.lanl.gov/abs/0705.4585).
students will never be called upon to
write in a high style.
attempt this style in college composition!
Middle (or Medium) style is the normal style used
for serious purposes by educated English-speakers. Middle style writing may use
contractions, but does not include vulgarity or slang. Most serious newspapers are written in middle
style, e.g. “‘El Paso the Beautiful’ opens this week. More than 50 artists will be
represented in the show, gallery co-owner Laura Zelenak
said. ‘We've done
El Paso shows
before, featuring city landmarks, and they've always been very popular. The
audience likes them because it's something they can identify with,’
Zelenak said. The gallery put out a call-to-artists in
March, and almost immediately began receiving submissions….” (http://origin.elpasotimes.com/living/ci_6046485).
is very informal and may include
contractions, slang, vulgarity, jargon and childish language.
example of today’s low style is text messaging or blogging:
Way ahead of you. :P (n/t). *points and laughs at Corvus_One*
No coffee eh? :P (n/t) . Why you little.. *Strangles Scirocco* (n/t) by
Corvus_One *chokes and gurgles* (n/t) by
inanely* by hieraco … Gnome? KDE?
Nah! I'll CLI!” (http://ars.userfriendly.org/cartoons/?id=20060129)
Normally, low style has no place
in academic writing, except perhaps in quotes.
style, meaning that it does not use a grand
style, but still avoids use of
contractions, slang or informal language.
Did you know?
For college writers whose first language is
English, the majority of college writing
errors (other than spelling and punctuation) are usually style problems,
not true grammar errors. For example, even the average English-speaking
seven-year-old would never say “I saw driving by a truck big red” (a true
grammar error), instead of “I saw a big red truck drive
by.” If a student writes “I
ain’t got no money,” this is not a grammar error (the sentence
is perfect low-style English!), but rather a style error (too low for college
writing). In this same way, if a student, while mistakenly trying to look “academic,”
writes “I viewed a canine quadruped promenading down the broad avenue” instead
of “I saw a dog walking down the street,” this, too is a serious style error:
too high a style for college writing.
If you are not familiar with the academic style of writing, find a couple
of real-world academic articles in the same subject area, things that were
published in journals or textbooks, and
then carefully imitate the style, level of language, grammar and
vocabulary-level that the authors used. This is also extremely useful if your
strongest language is not English.
To avoid style problems it usually helps if
you read your own writing out loud before
turning it in. Ask yourself, “Is this
really what I want to say to the professor?”