Academic Language

Academic language is the language used in the texts, classroom instruction, notes, and course assessments in a subject area.

Phi­los­o­phy has its own terms and lan­guage con­ven­tions, just like physics, math­e­mat­ics, lit­er­ary the­o­ry, soci­ol­o­gy, etc. Philo­soph­i­cal lan­guage is a kind of aca­d­e­m­ic lan­guage and it will be explic­it­ly taught in your phi­los­o­phy cours­es. How­ev­er, dif­fer­ent sub­ject areas also have com­mon terms and lan­guage conventions.

For exam­ple, the term “hypoth­e­sis” is used in phi­los­o­phy but it is not spe­cif­ic to phi­los­o­phy. Sim­i­lar­ly, the use of col­lo­qui­al terms, e.g., “dumb”, “awe­some”, any swear words, is unac­cept­able in any aca­d­e­m­ic work. Flu­en­cy with this gen­er­al aca­d­e­m­ic lan­guage is cru­cial to your suc­cess in high­er edu­ca­tion. Your work for phi­los­o­phy course and your pro­fes­sion­al com­mu­ni­ca­tions with your instruc­tors will be expect­ed to con­form to the con­ven­tions of gen­er­al aca­d­e­m­ic language.

Aca­d­e­m­ic lan­guage builds on ordi­nary lan­guage, so your work for your phi­los­o­phy cours­es and your pro­fes­sion­al com­mu­ni­ca­tions with your instruc­tors will also be expect­ed to con­form to the con­ven­tions of ordi­nary Eng­lish, e.g., spelling, com­plete sen­tences, sub­ject-verb agreement.

Nei­ther gen­er­al aca­d­e­m­ic lan­guage nor ordi­nary Eng­lish will be taught in your phi­los­o­phy cours­es, so if you feel like you do not have a firm grasp of the terms and con­ven­tions of col­lege writ­ing, please vis­it the Writ­ing Cen­ter for help.

Despite the fact that the mas­tery of ordi­nary and aca­d­e­m­ic lan­guage is not a learn­ing objec­tive in your phi­los­o­phy cours­es, mis­use of ordi­nary lan­guage and gen­er­al aca­d­e­m­ic lan­guage may be not­ed in stu­dent work and may be grounds for reduc­tion in the grade or, in egre­gious cas­es, out­right rejec­tion of the work. Think of mas­tery of ordi­nary and aca­d­e­m­ic lan­guage as a pre­req­ui­site for your phi­los­o­phy courses.

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