PrefacePreface

Whether you are reading this for class or browsing—whether you are working on an essay for your SSI or drafting your comparative politics thesis—whether you love writing or consider it a chore—Sound Writing is for you.

Though Sound Writing offers advice and tips, we write in hopes that you will consider how this advice resonates in your particular context and that you will use the advice not as rules to follow blindly but as material that enables you to make informed choices. Our work is guided by the belief that language evolves and reflects, in its evolution, both socio-political change and cultural particularity. The very language that you use when you engage in academic inquiry embodies choices, as well as the history of choices and events that led to the moment of your writing.

As intentional writers, ourselves, we have made choices that you may find surprising, troublesome, or just plain wrong. For instance, we have chosen in many places to use “they” as a singular pronoun (see They As a Singular Pronoun). Much as we'd like to think that we're in the forefront of thinking about language change, we're not being particularly radical. Unlike other alternative pronouns—like “hiser” and “thon” 2 —“they” has been used in this way for centuries. Following suit with the 2017 AP Style guide 3 , we use “they” in many places where no gender is specified, or where a named person might not use “his” or “her” pronouns. In other places in the text, we acknowledge that language can marginalize, traumatize, and oppress, and we suggest alternatives to sexist, LGBTQ+-phobic, racist, classist, and ableist terminologies of oppression.

One aspect of academic writing that we grappled with as we wrote this guide is the notion of a “Standard American English” (SAE). Although SAE is by no means the only “correct” form of English, it has a privileged status in the academy and in our society as a whole, and it can be an important tool for social mobility. We recognize this fact at the same time that we work against its implications. Throughout Sound Writing, we call attention to aspects of SAE that are especially contested, and we recognize from time to time that alternatives exist.

Our goal is to promote the socially conscious and “sound writing” that is at the heart of a Puget Sound education. As writing advisors at the Center for Writing, Learning, and Teaching and as students who have faced challenges similar to those that you will face, we have tailored this book to the needs of Puget Sound students.We hope you will find it useful, and that you'll help make it even better by emailing your suggestions to soundwriting@pugetsound.edu 4 .

https://www.merriam-webster.com/words-at-play/third-person-gender-neutral-pronoun-thon
https://blog.ap.org/products-and-services/making-a-case-for-a-singular-they
mailto:soundwriting@pugetsound.edu