“To go so far as to” — suitable for academic writing?

Is using the phrase “to go so far as to” in an academic context (e.g. in an article in humanities journal) acceptable?

New Example:

I do not know why Mister X went so far as to assert that Mister Y’s argument is blatantly invalid (– after all, it seems to be quite convincing).

This phrase sounds rather colloquial to me, but I think I have read it quite often in journals — maybe due to a lack of alternatives…

Are there any reasonable alternatives?


I realized that my intended-to-be entertaining example distracted from the actual question. So I edited the question and added a new, updated example.

Sorry for the confusion.
To keep the answer by Bill Franke reasonable, I keep the original example:

I do not know why Mister X goes so far as to assert that Mister Y is a scumbag.

Answer

Using the phrase “to go so far as to” in an academic context is certainly acceptable. It’s merely a style choice.

The purpose of this kind of verbose phrase is to intensify the sentence as well as to communicate the author’s opinion that Mr X has gone too far by calling Mr Y a scumbag. Because it’s a long and coherent phrase, and because it’s not a common phrase preceding words like scumbag in academic writing (the word scumbag ought to be in quotation marks to indicate that it’s a verbatim quote, or else “…a scumbag (sic)…”), it draws the reader’s attention.

Whether it’s acceptable to write this sentence containing the word scumbag is up to the peer reviewers and editors of the journal, not to some non-existent official council of language police who pass on what can and cannot be printed in academic journals. Those peer reviewers and editors also pass judgment on whether phrases like “to go so far as to” are acceptable in articles submitted for publication.

[EDIT: Response to new example sentence] Using the phrase “to go so far as to” in an academic context is certainly acceptable. It’s merely a style choice.

The purpose of this kind of verbose phrase is to intensify the sentence as well as to communicate the author’s opinion that Mr X has gone too far by making the claim the example sentence refers to. Because it’s a long and coherent phrase, and because it’s not a common phrase, it draws the reader’s attention.

The new example sentence suggests that Mr X has overreached or overreacted by saying “Mister Y’s argument is blatantly invalid”, something, it implies, should not have been said. Now it’s not about using an insulting epithet, but it’s still about a risky statement: either Mr X is wrong or has overstated his case because he hasn’t sufficiently supported his claim. It could say something like “Mr X went too far when he asserted that Mister Y’s argument was blatantly invalid”, but this is more directly judgmental than is “I do not know why Mister X goes so far as to assert…”.

Context determines whether using harsher (direct, strong, unadorned) or softer (indirect, mitigated, circumlocutory) language is the better strategy in any discussion of a disagreement.

Attribution
Source : Link , Question Author : ClintEastwood , Answer Author : Community

Leave a Comment