Re: Emperor's new Prose

Cecilia Maria B Sardenberg (cecisard@SUNRNP.UFBA.BR)
Sun, 3 Apr 1994 00:34:17 -0300

I have not read Fabian, but I decided to butt in the conversation going
on (about 'obscure' writing) because I find it extremely interesting that
a the group of anthropologists in this discussion seem to have forgotten
that styles of writing = including academic, scientific writing - are not
free of cultural influences...Bourdieu writes according to French
academic traditions. And if you think he is obscure, I will be glad to
send you some Brazilian scholarly papers for you to try to decipher. I
did part of my undergraduate and all my graduate studies in the US, and
had to learn to write the direct, dry, 'American' style of scholarly
works. Upon returning to Brazil and going back to writing in Portuguese,
for Brazilians, I found that my text (in Portuguese), read like a high
school term paper (I had incorporated the 'American' style into my
Portuguese writing). I was then forced to 're-learn' our style of writing
- with long sentences, and a more formal, indirect way of expression, a
lot similar to the French way.
Since I am often asked by my colleagues to translate their abstracts into
English and also translate English scholarly works to Portuguese, I have
been forced to come to terms with both styles of writing (though I still
make a lot of mistakes in English...).
As far as Bourdieu is concerned, I read him in English to understand
what he wants to say and in French for the way he says it. No doubt, this
is also cultural...

Cecilia Sardenberg