Me No Speaky Engrish

…at least, according to one of my reviewers for my paper. Apparently, I have “very poor English”, and should get a native-English speaker to read over my manuscript before resubmitting.

Now, I don’t want to toot my own horn, but I always thought I had fairly decent communication skills – both oral and written. I guess I’m mistaken.

Funny enough, they had no other big revisions for me – just changing one figure slightly and adding a bit of stats to the analysis. The second reviewer liked the paper and only suggested a few references to add. Overall, I’m happy with the comments I received; I don’t have a lot of work to do before resubmitting.

I just can’t get over someone telling me that I have very poor English — not just “you made a couple mistakes” or “I don’t like the style of some of your statements” — very poor!! For crying out loud, it’s not like I used the words “ain’t” or “prolly” or asked the reviewer “where you at?”

Since we have to respond to each comment made by the reviewers – by either saying “thank you, referee, for the enlightenment. I have made the change” or “thank you, referee, for your wonderful input, but we decided not to change it because…” – any advice on how to respond to the “very poor English” comment?

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Comments on: "Me No Speaky Engrish" (4)

  1. serious? You’re sure not some kind of mistake was being made, such as the comment being sent to the wrong person? THat’s just totally hilarious… What does your supervisor say about it?? 😀

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  2. I’m pretty sure it was for me, since the other two comments made sense! Supervisor thinks it’s pretty over the top as well. There is nothing wrong with the English, except for a few typos here and there 😛

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  3. What a strange comment for a native speaker. My advisor right now is on a big kick to make all of his students (native speakers and non) better writers and got a copy of Elements of Style for each grad student office. Maybe (if you can resist being snarky, as I would find very tempting!) you could say something like, “To address the reviewer who commented on my poor English, I have revised the writing for better flow and readability.”

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  4. Karina – we said something very similar when we resubmitted! Something along the lines of “in response to the comments from reviewer #1, we have read and edited the manuscript.” Although, I didn’t quote his “poor English” phrasing 😛I actually ended up making quite a number of changes (see the post “Now that I think about it…”). It turns out the reviewer had a point. However, I should mention that our English was never poor, it was just the style that he didn’t like (I assume).

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