The paramedic method
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The Paramedic Method. Dr. David Blakesley Professor of English, Purdue. The Problem. How can two sentences that say virtually the same thing communicate differently?

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The Paramedic Method

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The paramedic method

The Paramedic Method

Dr. David Blakesley

Professor of English, Purdue


The problem

The Problem

How can two sentences that say virtually the same thing communicate differently?

  • An evaluation of the effect of Class C fly ash and ground granulated blast furnace slag (GGBFS) on the properties of ternary mixtures for use in concrete pavements was undertaken and is presented in this paper. (36 words!FAT! The “Official Style”)

  • This paper evaluates the effect of Class C fly ash and ground granulated blast furnace slag (GGBFS) on the properties of ternary mixtures in concrete pavements. (26 words! LEAN! “Clear and Readable Style”)

    Lard content of sentence 1: 10/36 = 28%


What s the difference

What’s the difference?

The “Official Style” (Sentence 1) uses . . .

  • Lots of prepositions and prepositional phrases

  • “To be” verbs

  • Nominalizations

  • The passive voice

  • A long ‘wind-up’ or introductory phrase


What is the paramedic method

What Is the Paramedic Method?

Developed by Richard Lanham, the paramedic method is a set of clear steps for analyzing and revising wordy sentences. Writers use the paramedic method to improve clarity and readability so that their meaning is communicated concisely and effectively.


Paramedic method step 1

Paramedic Method Step 1

  • Underline the prepositional phrases* in

    the sentence.

    An evaluation of the effectof Class C fly ash and ground granulated blast furnace slag (GGBFS) on the properties of ternary mixturesfor use in concrete pavements is presented in this paper.

    * Prepositions are words that indicate relationships between nouns and pronouns. Words like at, in, on, of, to, about, around, below, above, from, into, near, since, through, against, after, and outside are prepositions.


Paramedic step 2

Paramedic Step 2

2. Circle the ‘to be’* verbs.

An evaluation of the effect of Class C fly ash and ground granulated blast furnace slag (GGBFS) on the properties of ternary mixtures for use in concrete pavements was undertaken and is presented in this paper.

* “To be” verbs are conjugations of “to be”: am, is, are, was, were


Paramedic step 3

Paramedic Step 3

3. Put a box around nominalizations* and (thus) identify the primary action.

An evaluation of the effect of Class C fly ash and ground granulated blast furnace slag (GGBFS) on the properties of ternary mixtures for use in concrete pavements was undertaken and is presented in this paper.

* Nominalizations are nouns that used to be verbs or adjectives, such as evaluation (n) for evaluated (v)


Paramedic step 4

Paramedic Step 4

4. Write the nominalization/primary action as

a simple verb.

An evaluation…

becomes

evaluate or evaluates


Paramedic step 5

Paramedic Step 5

5. Ask, “Who or what performs the action?” Then write the new base clause with the agent in the subject position. Use the simple verb form from step 4.

…for use in concrete pavements is

presented in this paper.

This paperevaluates…

agent

agent

action


Paramedic steps 6 and 7

Paramedic Steps 6 and 7

6. Keep the base clause near the beginning of the sentence, if possible.

7. Eliminate unnecessary words and phrases.


The final product

The Final Product

Original

An evaluation of the effect of Class C fly ash and ground granulated blast furnace slag (GGBFS) on the properties of ternary mixtures for use in concrete pavements was undertaken and is presented in this paper.

Revised

This paper evaluates the effect of Class C fly ash and ground granulated blast furnace slag (GGBFS) on the properties of ternary mixtures in concrete pavements.


Sample for practice

Sample for Practice

Original

From the beginning, the writing of this research article was marked by reluctance.

Revised

I wrote the research article reluctantly.


Sample for practice1

Sample for Practice

Original

As a means of providing scientists with appropriate tertiary

data, the conference is intended to serve as a

communication medium for everyone involved.

Revised

The conference will provide scientists with appropriate tertiary data and a way to share their research.


Sample for practice2

Sample for Practice

Original

It was decided that the committee for road improvement would cease their activity for the term by the managers.

Revised

The managers decided that the committee for road improvement would cease activity for the term.


Sample for practice3

Sample for Practice

Original

After the process of mixing the chemicals, cooking the substances at an appropriate temperature, filtering the remaining silt, and pouring them into the moulds, the brackets are ready to be used.

Revised

The brackets are ready for use after the chemicals are mixed, cooked, filtered, and fit into the moulds.


The paramedic method

Adapted by Joshua Prenosil and David Blakesley from The Thomson Handbook by David Blakesley and Jeffrey L. Hoogeveen


The paramedic method

For More Information

  • Contact the Purdue Writing Lab:

    • Drop In: Heavilon 226

    • Call: 765-494-3723

    • Email: [email protected]

    • On the web: http://owl.english.purdue.edu


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