Flashy but useless

Why is it that so many academics try to show off how clever they are at the expense of their readers? There is no excuse for peppering your text with untranslated extracts from obscure languages. The one I’m reading now has not just french, german, latin and greek, but also hebrew and ge’ez. The latter, which I hadn’t even heard of until last week, is ancient ethiopian, and is barely known by anyone outside Ethiopia. So how on earth does the author think he’s helping anyone by printing unintelligeable sentences on every page? Answer: he probably doesn’t: he doesn’t care about who’s going to read it, he just wants to show off how smart he is to his publishers and to anyone who’s impressed by strange-looking squiggles. And apparently nobody, on the whole route from lectures to articles to publishing the book, stopped him and pointed out that the purpose of academic publishing is to spread information, not to wank over how many languages you know.

Interestingly, he translates passages in Arabic. I wonder why: does he not speak the language himself, or has he made some deluded calculation that everyone speaks hebrew and ge’ez, but nobody speaks Arabic? Grrr….

Update: Spanish and Italian too.

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