Using Impersonal Language1
Characteristically, academic writing has an objective tone: that is,
the language of a written text sounds independent from the writer and
reader. An objective tone can be achieved through the use of impersonal
language. Using impersonal language requires you, as the writer, to avoid
characteristics of personal language such as:
using personal pronouns such as 'I',
'we', 'you', 'our', 'us' to refer to yourself or the reader
I agree with Edmund's (1987) perspective
that our way of dealing with stress
can be unproductive.
using judgemental words that indicate your feelings about a subject
I am convinced by Carroll's (1996)
conclusion that Australian architecture requires innovation, yet I
dislike the way he has ignored residential design in order to
reach this conclusion.
words that are emotive.
The conditions are appalling and account,
to a large extent, for the terrible
morbidity and mortality statistics of this community.
Look at the model texts. One cause of the difference
in formality between the two texts is the use of impersonal language.
| FORMAL TEXT
|The inequity in the distribution
of wealth in Australia is yet another indicator of Australia's
lack of egalitarianism. In 1995, 20% of the Australian population
owned 72.2% of Australia's wealth with the top 50% owning 92.1%
(Raskall, 1998: 287). Such a significant skew in the distribution
of wealth indicates that, at least in terms of economics, there
is an established class system in Australia. McGregor (1988)
argues that Australian society can be categorised into three levels:
the Upper, Middle and Working classes. In addition, it
has been shown that most Australians continue to remain in
the class into which they were born (McGregor, 1988: 156) despite
arguments about the ease of social mobility in Australian
society (Fitzpatrick, 1994). The issue
of class and its inherent inequity, however, is further compounded
by factors such as race and gender within and across these class
The relative disadvantage of women with
regard to their earnings and levels of asset ownership indicates
that within classes there is further
economic inequity based on gender...
|Impersonal subject used to start sentence
Evidence introduced with impersonal language
| INFORMAL TEXT
| Because only a few people
have most of the money and power in Australia, I
conclude that it is not an equal society. Society
has an Upper, Middle and Lower class and I
think that most people when they are born into one class,
end up staying in that class for their whole lives. When all three
classes are looked at more closely, other things such as the differences
between the sexes and people's racial
backgrounds also add to the unequal nature of Australian society.
Women earn less than men and own less than men. Why
is this so?
Adapted in part from: Woodward-Kron and Thomson, 2000
Comments and questions should
be directed to Unilearning@uow.edu.au