Friday, 25 September 2020

Stating the obvious

In the course of my work I provide students a lot of feedback on their writing, as they are pounding their projects into shape, ready for submission. Like that old song goes, "We have to accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative, latch on to the affirmative, and don't mess with Mister In-Between"...

I try to be very direct, clear and succinct in my feedback, but sometimes I too go around and around in circles in my efforts to clearly phrase my feedback to a student, so they know what they need to be doing, and what to stop doing.

Recently I was trying to say very clearly to a student that they were telling the reader the what the reader would already know; that they were insulting the reader's intelligence; that much of what they were saying needed to 'go without saying'! 

I thought that SURELY there must be a short, concise way - one word, hopefully - to tell the student that they were stating the obvious. However, the phrase, stating the obvious, is negative. I wanted to provide the same feedback in a more constructive and positive manner.

In my search for an answer on the interweb, I ran across an interesting discussion, which proposed the following answers (had to laugh!):
  • Call the person "Captain Obvious" (not really suitable for students!)
  • We could tell who runs on that they were "verbiose" [sic], or indulging in "prolixity" or "logorrhoea" (none have the same meaning though: all are more about providing a torrent of words, verbal diarrhoea; and also negative)
  • Say the student was "belaboring the obvious". Someone also suggested that using "belabour" on its own would work, and that meant "to redundantly or excessively state the obvious" (possible, but not quite what I was after, and still negative)
  • Tell the student to be "less redundant and get straight to the point", but that doesn't really clearly convey that the student is stating the obvious
  • And then someone suggested "self-evident". I thought that was a good idea, as it has positive connotations.
So I used that: that what they were saying was 'self-evident'. However, that phrase still does not quite give me a clear, crisp word for the act of 'stating the obvious'. There must be one.

I will keep searching.



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