Wednesday, August 22, 2007

(ongoing series) how the english language would be different if it had been designed by quantitative social scientists

19. There would be more exact synonyms for "suggest," that most magical word of assertion without authorial commitment or responsibility.

There are too many suggests in this thing I'm revising, so I just changed one to "indicate." But, compared to "Our results suggest that X", saying "Our results indicate that X" is so strong. I guess I could use "raise the possibility that X", although going to that well too many times is way more conspicuous than when one does it for "suggest."

Complete non-sequitur addendum: I don't feel like this is worth a post unto itself, and yet feel compared to share it with you if you haven't seen it: a mash-up combining "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and "Bootylicious." The video isn't that compelling, but the mash-up of the music, which apparently dates from 2001, is fabulous:

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

"raise the possibility that X"

indeed!

Anonymous said...

All this suggests a long rest is indicated....

eszter said...

"we find that"

Another could be "show", but I guess that depends on context. (I'm just now doing a last read of a paper so am thinking about these issues as well. I'll be curious to check back for additional suggestions.)

jeremy said...

"show" is pretty strong, not that far from "demonstrate", and maybe no closer to "suggest" as it is to "prove." The miracle of "suggest" is it lets you say your results say things without at all committing to those things. It was just a suggestion!

Anonymous said...

'are consistent with the notion that' (ugh)

Anonymous said...

"We suspect but cannot actually prove that..."

Another good mashup: All Bad Touches (Come to an End)

Anonymous said...

Here's a live mash up of Madonna & Gogol Bordello that I really like. Whatever you think about Madonna, girlfriend knows how to put on a show. JJ
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dZOnw2EXAaQ

Anonymous said...

not a mashup, but pretty funny (timberlake on SNL):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1dmVU08zVpA

tina said...

how about "support the perspective that X"

Lucy said...

Biologists would appreciate the synonyms, too.

Along the lines of Tina's suggestion, how about "are consistent with"? Is "hint" too weak?

Lucy said...

Oh, someone already said "consistent with", sorry.

Dan Myers said...

It's not exactly the same thing, but who ever said you have to stay on topic on blog comments. My favorite thing in this realm is really opposite--overclaiming: "the coefficient is in the expected direction even though it isn't significant" and then go on to act as if it "suggests" the hypothesis was right...

Ann said...

Thanks for the "Smells like Booty" link. It made my day.

Brad Wright said...

Very funny about social scientists and language. I have actually sat at my computer trying to figure out other words to use than "suggest"...

Of course, "completely unrelated" is all too often the appropriate description for my findings.

Anonymous said...

'It has not escaped our notice that the specific pairing we have postulated immediately suggests a possible copying mechanism for the genetic material.'

Feed on that ....

AK said...

Wow, that mash-up managed to pretty much perfectly capture both ends of the spectrum of my musical taste. Why is grunge R&B not a real genre?

As for "suggests," I have to admit I'm also stuck with "indicates," "is consistent with," and "supports the perspective/conclusion." If you come up with anything else please let us know!

Daniel said...

imply
perhaps imply
might imply
point to (the possibility that)
underwrite a suspicion that

Anonymous said...

Helps to have a point to make in the first place.