Nothing better illustrates the love of social scientists for extra syllables than the history of the word ‘methodology’. In the early nineteenth century, the word was used to describe the study of methods, especially scientific methods. Works about methodology, at that time, would be expected to discuss different ways of collecting evidence and arranging classifications. In the past fifty years, the word has been used to describe the particular methods researchers might use. In this sense, the term is used as a synonym for ‘method’: when researchers discuss their ‘methodology’, they are typically describing their ‘method’. We see here (and in other instances) the reverse of what often occurs in non-technical discourse. In ordinary language, lenghty terms, which are commonly used, tend to be abbreviated – ‘bicycle’ becomes ‘bike’, ‘refrigerator’ becomes ‘fridge’ and ‘television’ becomes ‘TV’. In the academic world, as the example ‘methodology’ shows, commonly used short words can sprout surplus, largely decorative syllables.
Billig, Michael (2013), Learn to Write Badly. How to Succeed in the Social Sciences, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, s. 74-75.
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