The Writing Point blog is primarily written for graduate students and academics at the Faculty of Social Sciences at Charles University. Authors of the posts are staff at the faculty’s Language Centre, and many topics addressed in the blog arise from their experience with native Czech speakers wrestling with written English. Regular posts on aspects of the English language and Anglo-Saxon academic writing aim to familiarize the reader with Anglo-Saxon academic writing practice, mainly in the social sciences, and to enrich the reader’s knowledge of English.
The Writing Point blog is part of the Language Centre’s continuously evolving Writing Point website, collecting together useful and reliable resources for developing English language and academic writing skills. When online resources seem to be lacking for a topic, we create our own, starting in the pages of this blog; when there are resources available, we review them in the blog so the reader can get a sense of whether they are worth using.
The form of a blog suits a developmental, tentative approach to writing that does not succumb to the temptation of pronouncing a given set of writing principles as set in stone: writing occurs in a crucible in which such principles are ineffectual. What is offered by Writing Point is provisional because partial, yes, but also because inherent to academic discourse is that what is offered is always context-dependent — for its time, place and, importantly, for the current concerns of your community of readers. Alertness to these communicative factors in the triad of author-text-reader is what we seek to heighten rather than propose a new prescription (the ideal is to treat the causes rather than the symptoms).
Many posts on this blog focus on what may seem minutiae of the English language, such as, say, the difference between use and utilize. But we do not want the reader from this to feel lost in the wood for the trees, or to surmise that the devil is in the details. Rather, in discussing such minutiae we hope a larger matter is reflected, such as an attunement to nuance, and in this way more generally applicable academic writing skills may be honed. We collect examples of usage from social science texts as much as possible: far more can be often be learned from examples than from a codified set of rules (usage of indefinite and definite articles is a notorious case in point). Besides, with rules come the many exceptions that prove them.
We welcome your comments about any of our blog posts and suggestions for topics to be covered in a blog post. Each post has a comment field, or you can use the contact page. We look forward to hearing from you!