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A Whole Range

November 6, 2011

I attended a training session for research students at the OU in Milton Keynes recently, and was struck by how often the facilitator used the expression ‘a whole range’. A whole range of skills. A whole range of options. A whole range of subjects. This was often used after only two exemplars (‘There are conferences, seminars and a whole range of events where you can meet academics in your field’) when one would be hard pushed to think of a third.

It’s extremely common in Academicspeak – I’m currently reviewing What Are Universities For? by Stefan Collini, and he employs it a lot too. It never varies – no one ever says ‘a wide range’ or ‘a considerable range’ – and I feel a bit suspicious whenever I hear it. I think it’s often used to pad out exiguous lists to give a false impression of profusion – like using ‘et cetera’ when there isn’t really much of a cetera to follow.

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