A colleague is writing a proposal with a large number of other scientists and recently sent around a draft for the group to read, discuss, and edit. One member of this group commented only that the writing was "turgid". Ouch.
The dictionary definition of turgid includes words such as swollen, bloated, and pompous. Turgid is not a nice word, but I suppose it's somewhat kinder than its synonyms.
I tend to be a rather fierce editor, but I have read the proposal draft and I'm not exactly sure what about it is turgid. If the proposal draft said:
We are requesting that the funding fall in torrents -- except at occasional intervals when checked by violent gusts of annual reports which sweep through the internets (for it is in the National Science Foundation that our hopes lie), transforming this planetary body and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the broader impacts that struggle against the darkness of the unempowered. [apologies to Bulwer-Lytton]
then maybe you would have a case for calling the writing turgid. Otherwise, I don't see how anyone could reasonably say that what my colleague has written thus far registers in any significant way on the logarithmic Turgidity Scale.
I have never tried this particular editorial approach: making a somewhat savage comment but not providing anything more specific or constructive. I think I will not be in a hurry to try it out on anyone, though. In the case of students, it would be extraordinarily mean, and in the case of colleagues, it's a good way to have your input ignored unless you also provide more specific advice, if not some actual editing.
9 months ago