Here, in a corpus consisting of 707 452 scientific abstracts published between 1881 and 2015 from 122 influential biomedical journals, we show that the readability of science is steadily decreasing. Further, we demonstrate that this trend is indicative of a growing usage of general scientific jargon.
The authors conclude:
more than a quarter of scientific abstracts now have a readability considered beyond college graduate level English.
So if you find a scientific article hard to understand, it may not be your fault!
The ELT Journal has been published since 1946. Until 1981 it had a section called The Question Box, which answered readers’ questions. Three examples from the earliest issues:
Question: I have recently come across fry-pan for frying-pan. Is this form considered correct?
Answer:Fry-pan is not accepted as standard English and is considered incorrect by most grammarians. It is probably an American form. Similar forms are swim-suit and fly-bomb, both to be found in newspapers in Great Britain. It is likely that such forms will spread and be accepted in time. Grammarians will explain that the correct forms are swimming suit, made up of the noun suit modified by the gerund swimming (a suit for swimming), and flying-bomb, made up of the noun bomb and the participle flying (a bomb that flies). The ordinary user of language does not trouble himself about nice distinctions between gerunds and participles. If the root form of the verb (fry, swim and fly) expresses the meaning, the gain in brevity will in time probably result in the adoption of the shorter forms.
Question: Should we, in English, use Netherland or Netherlands as an attributive adjective? The bank named after the Midlands is the Midland Bank, and the regiment that derives its name from the highlands is called the Highland Light Infantry.
Answer: Usage requires the use of the plural form, as in The Netherlands Indies. For the foreign student of English it would be helpful if there were uniformity in these matters, but unfortunately there is not uniformity.
Time is out of joint: the transmedial hauntology of David Bowie
If you have no idea what that means, well, it’s the title of an article in the academic journal Celebrity Studies. The current issue is dedicated to the study of Bowie.
Other recent issues have articles on (for example) The Great British Bake-Off, Super Voice Girl, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, X-Men, Doctor Who, Haruki Murakami, Amy Winehouse, Beckham, Beyoncé and Trump.
With access through UEA Library, you can read all of these online.
BrowZine makes it easy to browse journals and articles, when you’re not looking for anything in particular. UEA has access to the full-text of the journals, though sometimes recent articles cannot be viewed.