Connecting Sentences


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Connecting sentence, metalanguage, etc. information from Graff and Birkenstein, "They Say, I Say."

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  • Student complaints; explain each one. Make point: people think academic writing has to be different, fancy, or separate from speech. With the exception of people who speak different grammars, not true. Academic writing just more careful version of what we do in speech. In speech context all around us. Writing—have to reiterate it, not assume it – can't know when someone will read something or with what knowledge.
  • Lots of students write sentences like this. What's the connection between them? CLICK What about this? WRONG connection—sounds as if people thought LBJ was bad because of civil rights. Most said bc. Vietnam war. Papers w/ sentences like these—hard to read. Sentences don't seem to flow logically from sentence before or on to sentence after. Most who write like this: Writing = piling up information or insights not building argument.
  • When you write sentence, you create expectation that next sentence will echo & be extension of first one REALLY important if argument taken in new direction. Like drawing. Do it yourself: YOU control the connections—or readers won't follow you, or they will make connections you don't mean to make. WHAT TO DO?
  • An argument is more than a single statement at the beginning (and maybe end) of your paper. Arguments appear all through your paper in the ways you connect ideas and transition between them. The development of argument is why some students think academic writing is too long – not getting ways sentences connected, ideas developed. Weaker vocabulary may not see ways word choices add to ideas.
  • King uses term criticism 3 times, statement twice; effect not repetitive. Key terms hold paragraph together Also notice transitions. SELDOM DO I.....IF I .... BUT SINCE .....
  • From Susan Douglas, Where the Girls Are: Growing Up Female with the Mass Media Go through each line—how does it repeat with a difference' what's the difference. Ambivalent --- same concept with a different word that adds new associations. (Why just using big words isn't good idea—need precise words—words that have right meaning.) Told we were equal/told we were subordinate Told we could change history / told we were trapped by history Infuriated / seduced Adore / despise I want / I think wanting .... Help explain her claim that women pulled in 2 directions.
  • Commenting on your claims, telling readers how and how not to think of them. It's the voice of the voice over narrator.
  • Neil Postman, Amusing ourselves to death: Public discourse in the age of show business. Previewing what he will argue Spelling out the specific claims he will make Distinguishing his argument from others.
  • This isn't just academic mumbo jumbo. You do this in your own speech. Pay attention to how writers and speakers use metacommentary when they talk with you. People just don't make claims, they WORK them Elaborate Generalize Distinguishing from related claims More you listen / watch for this when you hear people talk or read books, better writing will be.
  • Yes, we all should care about nutrition or world peace. We don't all care in the same way. (METACOMMENTARY!) We need to know why YOU think we should care. If all the reason you have is “because you should,” rethink your argument. The OBVIOUS is not always OBVIOUS to everyone. It may not be obvious at all.
  • Connecting Sentences

    1. 1. Is This You? <ul><li>My professor tells me to be more clear or to connect my sentences. </li></ul><ul><li>I get dinged for not having transitions. But my ideas make sense to me! </li></ul><ul><li>I wrote all the facts, but I got a C and my professor said I didn't have a point or an argument. No fair! </li></ul><ul><li>How can I fill three pages? I said everything on the first page. I don't want to write filler. </li></ul><ul><li>Academic authors take too long to say things and they say the same thing over and over. </li></ul>
    2. 2. Connecting Sentences and Transitions Justin is a good dog. He jumps over my six-foot fence to chase squirrels. People thought LBJ was a bad president. He supported civil rights.
    3. 3. Sentences echo the sentence before and connect to the sentence after.
    4. 4. What Can You Do? 1. Use transition terms 2. Add pointing words 3. Use certain key words and phrases Throughout your entire text 4. Repeat yourself—but with a difference!
    5. 5. TRANS = Latin root word for CROSS OVER Transitions “cross over” sentences & paragraphs They also say what KIND of connection you are making.
    6. 6. ADDITION <ul><li>Also, and, besides, furthermore, in addition indeed, in fact, moreover, so, too. </li></ul><ul><li>My foster dog Gator is a real sweetheart; furthermore, he is learning manners very fast. </li></ul>
    7. 7. EXAMPLE <ul><li>After all </li></ul><ul><li>As an illustration </li></ul><ul><li>For example, </li></ul><ul><li>For instance </li></ul><ul><li>Specifically </li></ul><ul><li>To take a case in point </li></ul><ul><li>LBJ actually had a better record than his reputation would suggest. For example, it was LBJ, not JFK, who pushed through the Voting Rights Act of 1964. </li></ul>
    8. 8. CONTRAST <ul><li>Although </li></ul><ul><li>But </li></ul><ul><li>By contrast </li></ul><ul><li>Conversely </li></ul><ul><li>Despite the fact that </li></ul><ul><li>Even though </li></ul><ul><li>Nonetheless </li></ul><ul><li>Whereas </li></ul><ul><li>Although Gator can still break things when he gets excited and wiggly, he has begun to calm down since I have been training him. </li></ul>
    9. 9. CAUSE AND EFFECT <ul><li>Accordingly </li></ul><ul><li>As a result </li></ul><ul><li>Consequently </li></ul><ul><li>Hence </li></ul><ul><li>Since </li></ul><ul><li>So </li></ul><ul><li>Then </li></ul><ul><li>Therefore </li></ul><ul><li>Gator tried to crowd my friend's dog Roxy once too often. Accordingly, she snapped at him and then backed him into his crate. In effect, she put him into “time out,” which showed him what sort of behavior other dogs expected of him. </li></ul>
    10. 10. Transitions <ul><li>Help you move from one sentence to the other </li></ul><ul><li>Combine two short sentences into one smoother sentence. </li></ul><ul><li>NOT: “Spot is a good dog. He has fleas.” </li></ul><ul><li>BUT: “Spot is a good dog, even though he has fleas.” </li></ul><ul><li>Transitions help make sure you have an argument in the first place! </li></ul>
    11. 11. USE POINTING WORDS <ul><li>This </li></ul><ul><li>These </li></ul><ul><li>That </li></ul><ul><li>Those </li></ul><ul><li>Their </li></ul><ul><li>Such </li></ul><ul><li>Pronouns </li></ul><ul><li>Use carefully! Add a precise noun. </li></ul><ul><li>This action , these ideas , their thoughts , such beliefs. </li></ul>
    12. 12. Repeat Key Words & Phrases <ul><li>“ While confined here in the Birmingham city jail, I came across your recent statement calling my present activities “unwise and untimely.” Seldom do I pause to answer criticism of my work and ideas. If I sought to answer all the criticisms that cross my desk, my secretaries would have little time for anything other than such correspondence in the course of the day, and I would have no time for constructive work. But since I feel that you are men of genuine good will and that your criticisms are sincerely set forth, I want to try to answer your statement in what I hope will be patient and reasonable terms.” Martin Luther King, Jr., “Letter from Birmingham Jail” </li></ul>
    13. 13. Repeat Yourself—But With A Difference <ul><li>“ The mass media has engendered in many women a kind of cultural identity crisis. We are ambivalent toward femininity on the one hand and feminism on the other. Pulled in opposite directions—told we are equal, yet told we were subordinate; told we could change history but told we were trapped by history—we got the bends at an early age, and we've never gotten rid of them. When I open Vogue , for example, I am simultaneously infuriated and seduced … I want to look beautiful; I think wanting to look beautiful is about the most dumb-ass goal you could have. I adore the materialism; I despise the materialism … that's what it means to be a woman in America. </li></ul>
    14. 14. The Art of Metacommentary <ul><li>HUH? </li></ul><ul><li>What I meant to say was … </li></ul><ul><li>My point was not X, but Y.... </li></ul><ul><li>You may not like what I have to say, but … </li></ul><ul><li>Metacommentary: telling the reader how to interpret what you have said or are about to say. </li></ul>
    15. 16. Why Do You Need Metacommentary? <ul><li>Facts don't speak for themselves. </li></ul><ul><li>Evidence in many areas can be understood different ways. </li></ul><ul><li>Helps keep readers from getting lost. </li></ul><ul><li>Helps you develop your own ideas. </li></ul><ul><li>Draws out implications </li></ul>
    16. 17. “ It is my intention in this book to show that a great...shift has taken place in America, with the result that the content of much of our public discourse has become dangerous nonsense. With this in view, my task in the chapters ahead is straightforward. I must, first, demonstrate how, under the governance of the printing press, discourse in America was different from what it is now—generally coherent, serious, and rational; and then how, under the governance of television, it has become shriveled and absurd. But to avoid the possibility that my analysis will be dismissed as standard-brand academic whimpering, a kind of elitist complaint about “junk” on television, I must first explain that I appreciate junk as much as the next fellow and I know full well that the printing press has generated enough of it to fill the Grand Canyon to overflowing.”
    17. 18. Metacommentary Techniques <ul><li>Essentially, I am arguing that... </li></ul><ul><li>My point is not that … but that .... </li></ul><ul><li>What … really means is that .... </li></ul><ul><li>In other words … </li></ul><ul><li>To put it another way … </li></ul><ul><li>Having just argued that (summary), we need to turn to X. </li></ul><ul><li>For example... </li></ul><ul><li>To take a case in point … </li></ul><ul><li>Even more important... </li></ul><ul><li>Above all … </li></ul>
    18. 19. Even More Metacommentary! <ul><li>Incidentally </li></ul><ul><li>By the way </li></ul><ul><li>Although some readers may object that .... I would answer that .... </li></ul><ul><li>In sum, then … </li></ul><ul><li>My conclusion, then, is that … </li></ul><ul><li>In short … </li></ul>
    19. 20. These strategies will make you a better writer – and a better reader <ul><li>Practice, practice, practice. </li></ul><ul><li>Pay attention when you listen to people speak. </li></ul><ul><li>Pay attention when you read. </li></ul><ul><li>Reread and pay attention when you write. Look for these specific techniques in your own papers. </li></ul><ul><li>Be patient with yourself. We are ALL developing writers. </li></ul>
    20. 21. Say Why Your Reader Should Care <ul><li>X is important because … </li></ul><ul><li>Although X may seem trivial, it is in fact crucial in terms of today's concern over … </li></ul><ul><li>Ultimately, what is at stake here is … </li></ul><ul><li>These findings have important consequences for the broader area of … </li></ul><ul><li>My discussion of X is in fact addressing the larger matter of ... </li></ul>
    21. 22. More Transitional Phrases <ul><li>ELABORATION </li></ul><ul><li>Actually </li></ul><ul><li>By extension </li></ul><ul><li>In short </li></ul><ul><li>That is, </li></ul><ul><li>To put it bluntly </li></ul><ul><li>In other words </li></ul><ul><li>Ultimately </li></ul><ul><li>COMPARISON </li></ul><ul><li>Along the same lines </li></ul><ul><li>In the same way </li></ul><ul><li>Likewise </li></ul><ul><li>similarly </li></ul>
    22. 23. AND MORE TRANSITIONS <ul><li>CONCESSION </li></ul><ul><li>Admittedly </li></ul><ul><li>It is true that </li></ul><ul><li>Granted </li></ul><ul><li>Naturally </li></ul><ul><li>Of course </li></ul><ul><li>To be sure </li></ul><ul><li>CONCLUSION </li></ul><ul><li>As a result </li></ul><ul><li>Consequently </li></ul><ul><li>Hence </li></ul><ul><li>In conclusion </li></ul><ul><li>In short </li></ul><ul><li>In sum </li></ul><ul><li>Therefore </li></ul>
    23. 24. Sources and Citation This presentation is an abbreviated summary of chapters eight through ten of Gerald Graff and Cathy Birkenstein, They Say, I say: The Moves That Matter In Academic Writing W.W. Norton & Co., 2006, 101-132. All graphics are from the same text. It is in our library, or you can order it from any online retailer. The ISBN numbers are ISBN 13: 978-0-393-92409-1 or ISBN 10: 0-393-92409-2.