Sunday, April 22, 2012

Translations, Part IV: A Short Guide to Damning With Faint Praise

"This essay is about an interesting and important topic."

That does not mean you, personally, have anything interesting or important to say about it.

"There are some promising ideas here..."

Too bad they don't deliver on that promise.

"... especially in the third paragraph on page 6."

That paragraph was almost coherent; the rest of the essay was ten pages of mush.

"This is certainly an original interpretation, but it needs more supporting evidence from the text."

Wow, that's the first time I've ever heard anyone argue that Macbeth is secretly gay and he kills Duncan because he can't verbalize his love for him. I hope it is the last.

"Proofread carefully; the many sentence-level errors in the paper distract the reader from the quality of your ideas."

Note that I'm not actually saying the quality of your ideas is GOOD, just that it exists.

"You have several well-chosen quotations and examples from the text, but this essay needs a clearer central argument."

I've already freaking READ Beowulf, thankyouverymuch. Please SAY something about it already.

"You have clearly been paying attention during class discussion, but this essay would benefit from closer attention to the text itself."

The fact that you think Titus is friends with a character named "Ronicus" kind of tipped me off that you haven't done the reading.

5 comments:

Flavia said...

Spot-on. We speak the same paper-comment language, you and I!

Fie upon this quiet life! said...

Wow. That is laugh-out-loud hilarious. I can't tell you how many times I've had some of the very same thoughts!

LeeAnn said...

How many times have I had the same thoughts while grading!!

heavy hedonist said...

Hilarious. My oldest sister is the Queen of damning with faint praise, though.

Troy Headrick said...

You're not going to believe this. I just finished marking a set of papers--I teach composition course at The American University in Cairo--turned on my computer, went to my blog, clicked on the "next blog" link, and up came yours. So, five minutes after I'd just finished commenting on papers, I was reading a blog that could have been written by me. Strange, these sorts of experiences. Rock on!