Translation guide for comments on your paper

Image by Chris Ho

By: Winona Young

The season of returning essays is about to arise, and students will be filled with relief, confusion, and inevitable disappointment . . . but mostly just confusion in response to what their professors wrote on their essay. So, for this issue, The Peak staff is providing an exclusive feature to help SFU undergrads finally decode the intricacies of the labyrinthine critiques and comments professors have used as feedback on students’ essays. The Peak sat down with one of SFU’s professors, who will be unnamed to conceal their identity, and will be (because they very, very insistently told us they wanted to be) referred to as “DeepRaccoon.”

The following are a series of translations provided by DeepRacoon.

    • Unsure what this means?: I have reread your sentence three times, and I sincerely think this was the moment when you fell asleep with Google Docs open on your computer.
    • Thesis needs a little bit of work: You didn’t write a thesis. You wrote a vague observation about this book, with information that I am 40% sure you acquired through reading the Sparknotes “About” page. Of course a book written by a postmodern philosopher shows important characteristics of postmodernism, like, no shit Sherlock! What other Hot Take™ are you going to take on next?
    • There’s a lot to unpack here: When we use this phrase, we actually mean to say “I don’t get paid enough to do this . . .” It can also double as what we in the academic field use as a professional way of saying “YIKES.”
    • Reduce redundancies: I know you needed to reach the 1500-word minimum, but for the love of God, can you please not re-explain your thesis to me for the third time in this body paragraph? You know I have a wife? That I have kids to get home to? And the only thing between me and them is literally you and your half-baked, half-assed, assed-assed 400 words that you threw in to reach the word count, you stupid, smelly, SMELLY student.
    • Good example!: You took this directly from my slides, which proves you looked at them, I think. But this boosts my ego, so good on ya.


  • Lack of transitions: “Firstly,” “Secondly,” and “Lastly” are not enough to tie your body paragraphs together, even though I 100% used them in college too.


  • Excellent work: You did excellent work! Or did you? I may be sincere or be one deeply sarcastic sonofabitch here, you’ll never know 😉