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They Say, I Say. The Moves that Matter in Academic Writing Ch. 8, 9, & 10. Tying It All Together. Ch. 8: “As A Result” Connecting the Parts. The authors give an example of a student, named “Bill” who had a particular sentence pattern.

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They say i say

They Say, I Say

The Moves that Matter in Academic Writing

Ch. 8, 9, & 10

Ch 8 as a result connecting the parts
Ch. 8: “As A Result”Connecting the Parts

  • The authors give an example of a student, named “Bill” who had a particular sentence pattern.

  • It read “something like this… ‘Spot is a good dog. He has fleas.’” (105).

  • They urged him to “connect his sentences.” They suggested to him the ideas of:

    • “Spot is a good dog, but he has fleas.”

    • “Spot is good dog, even though he has fleas.” (105)

  • Bill never connected or took their advice

  • Needing to use transitions
    Needing to Use Transitions

    • “Bill” failed “to mark his connections, his writing was as frustrating to read” (106).

    • The authors notes that:

      • “Bill [never realized] that to write a good sentence he had to think about how it connected to those that came before and after; that he had to think hard about how that sentence fit into the sentences that surrounded it.” (106)


    • This chapter aims to put into practice a “do it yourself principle” – you must make the connections, not your readers.

    • Putting principle into action:

    • Using transition terms (like “therefore” and “as a result”)

    • Adding pointing words (like “this or “such”)

    • Developing a set of key terms and phrases for each text you write

    • Repeating yourself, but with a difference – a move that involves repeating what you’ve said, but with enough variation to avoid redundant

    Use transitions common ones
    Use Transitions (common ones)

    • Addition:

      • Also Furthermore In fact

      • And In Addition Moreover

      • Besides Indeed So too

  • Example:

    • After all Specifically

    • As an illustration To take a case in point

    • For example Consider

    • For instance

  • They say i say

    • Elaboration:

      • Actually That is To put it bluntly

      • By extension In other words

      • In short To put it another way

      • Ultimately To put it succinctly

  • Comparison:

    • Along the same lines Likewise

    • In the same way Similarly

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    • Contrast:

      • Although Despite Nevertheless

      • But Even though Nonetheless

      • By contrast However On the contrary

      • Conversely In contrast On the other hand

      • Regardless Whereas While yet

  • Cause and Effect:

    • Accordingly Hence Then

    • As a result Since Therefore

    • Consequently So Thus

  • They say i say

    • Concession:

      • Admittedly Naturally

      • Although it is true Of course

      • Granted To be sure

  • Conclusion:

    • As a result In sum

    • Consequently Therefore

    • Hence Thus

    • In conclusion To sum up

    • In short To summarize

  • Transitions

    • Should go unnoticed in your paper, if done right

    • They can “not only [help you] move from one sentence to another, but to combine two or more sentences into one” (111).

    • Combining helps to avoid the choppy, static sentences --- like Bill

    Use pointing words
    Use Pointing Words

    • Very literal in their meaning

    • Most common: this, these, that, those, their, and such – as well as simple pronouns such as: he, his, she, her, it, and their

    • They refer back to something you have mentioned

    • Need to be used carefully though – make sure that you have identified, clearly, what the pronoun is referring to before using them

    A bad example
    A bad example…

    • The authors provide this example as to how a pointing word can be ambiguous and unclear

      • Alexis de Tocqueville was highly critical democratic societies, which he saw as tending toward mob rule. At the same time, he accorded democratic societies grudging respect. This is seen in Tocqueville’s statement that…

  • Issue with what “this” is referring to here

  • You can fix it by making sure that there is only one “object” that the pointing word can refer to

  • How can you do that in the example above?

  • Repeat key terms and phrases
    Repeat Key Terms and Phrases

    • When making an argument, it’s good to make use of repeating the key terms that you wishing to make.

    • A good example can be found in Martin Luther King Jr.’s use of the key words: criticism, statement, answer, and correspondence in the opening paragraph of his “Letter from Birmingham Jail”

    Letter from birmingham jail
    “Letter from Birmingham Jail”

    My Dear Fellow Clergymen:

    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.

    Repeat yourself but with a difference
    Repeat Yourself – But with a Difference

    • This means saying what you have already said, but in a slightly different way

    • Think of it as “building bridges” between ideas

    • You can do this “by echoing what you’ve just said while simultaneously moving your text into new territory” (116).

    They say i say

  • Repetition --- it can help you move your paper along. It “is a central means by which you can move from point A to point B in a text” (118).

  • Issues – Repetition is key to making a point, but you want to avoid falling into the habit of getting trapped in a place where you repeat yourself and never make a point

  • Solution – “The trick therefore is not to avoid repeating yourself but to repeat yourself in varied and interesting enough ways that you advance your argument without sounding tedious” (118).

  • Ch 9 ain t so is not academic writing doesn t always mean setting aside your own voice
    Ch. 9: “ transitions: Ain’t So / Is Not”Academic Writing Doesn’t Always Mean Setting Aside Your Own Voice

    • The authors open this chapter by asking the question:

    • “Have you ever gotten the impression that writing well in college means setting aside the kind of language you use in everyday conversation?” (121).

    • The answer is: it’s a conversation. You do want to use academic and sophisticated words but it can be appropriate to use a “turn of phrase” or how you would talk with family and friends in your paper

    What is important
    What is important… transitions:

    • One can “write effective academic arguments while holding on to some of your own voice” (121).

    • This does mean that you should not fill your paper with any language you use around your friends, or “fall back on colloquial usage as an excuse for not learning more rigorous forms of expression” (122).

    • The authors feel and suggest that ---

      • [One use a] relaxed, colloquial language can [serve to] enliven academic writing and even enhance its rigor and precision. Such informal language also helps you connect with readers in a personal as well as an intellectual way. (122)

    Mix academic and colloquial styles
    Mix Academic and Colloquial Styles transitions:

    • I can serve to mix the two approaches

      • Marking and judging formal and mechanical errors in student papers is one area in which composition studies seems to have a multiple-personality disorder. On the one hand, our mellow, student-centered, process-based selves tend to condemn marking formal errors at all. Doing it represents the Bad Old Days. Ms. Fidditch and Mr. Flutesnoot with sharpened red pencils, spilling innocent blood across the page. Useless detail work. Inhumane, perfectionist standards, making our students feel stupid, wrong, trivial, misunderstood… (122-123)

        Can you identify the “popular” phrases and words from above.

    Informal language
    Informal language transitions:

    • Article uses words like: “mellow”

    • Article uses phrases like: “Bad Old Days”

    • Also, look at generic names of the “mean” teachers and red ink as “blood”

    When to mix styles consider your audience and purpose
    When to Mix Styles? transitions: Consider Your Audience and Purpose

    • One can always experiment with one’s writing

    • Knowing when to be formal and informal rests primarily on the aim of your paper and the audience who you are trying to reach.

    • Demonstrate an awareness of what you are seeking to achieve and who is going to listen to what you are saying when making the choices for how you will say what you plan on saying

    Ch 10 but don t get me wrong the art of metacommentary
    Ch. 10: “But Don’t Get Me Wrong” transitions: The Art of Metacommentary

    • What is metacommentary?

    • You know what “commentary” is, right?

    • The trick is, we engage in metacommentary all the time, take the following template:

      • What I meant to say was ,

      • My point was not , but .

      • You’re probably not going to like what I’m about to say,

        but .

  • Metacommentary – it “is a way of commenting on your claims and telling others how – and how not – to think about them” (129).

  • Who knows what a greek chorus is
    Who knows what a Greek Chorus is? transitions:

    • Greek Chorus – in a Greek drama, it is their job to stand off and elaborate and explain on what is unfolding on the stage

    • They explain what the characters are doing and usually talk directly to the audience

    • Modern examples: C-3PO and R2D2 from Star Wars or Jay and Silent Bob from any of Kevin Smith’s movies

    Use metacommentary to clarify and elaborate
    Use transitions: Metacommentary to Clarify and Elaborate

    • Why use it? Why can’t you just be clear to begin with?

      • The answer is that, no matter how clear and precise your writing is, readers can still fail to understand it in any number of ways. Even the best writers can provoke reactions in readers that they didn’t intend, and even good readers can get lost in a complicated argument or fail to see how one point connects with another (131)

  • “Because the written word is prone to so much mischief” it is important for an author to use metacommentary effectively to help clarify and avoid misinterpretations (131).

  • Metacommentary can
    Metacommentary transitions: can…

    • It can also “help you develop your ideas and generate more text” (131).

    • A good use is to avoid that “shuttering” stop you sometimes come to at the end of a paper. Metacommentary can help you discuss your own writing and lead you to more discussion or even wrap up your paper…

    Examples of metacommentary
    Examples of transitions: metacommentary

    • Even if you think you’ve said everything…

      • In other words, she doesn’t realize how right she is.

      • What really means is .

      • My point is not but .

  • Metacommentary should, ideally, “help you recognize some implications of your ideas that you didn’t initially realize were there” (132).

  • Titles as metacommentary
    Titles as transitions: Metacommentary

    • Take this example:

      • Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business

  • Titles can serve as a kind of metacommentary on your whole paper.

  • They are your newspaper headlines for what the paper is about, so give it some thought when developing them

  • Templates for introducing metacommentary
    Templates for Introducing transitions: Metacommentary

    • To ward off potential misunderstandings

      • Essentially, I am arguing not that we should give up the policy, but that we should monitor effects far more closely.

      • That is not to say , but rather .

      • X is concerned less with than with .

    They say i say

    They say i say

    They say i say

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  • To guide readers to your most general point

    • In sum, then, .

    • My conclusion, then, is that .

    • In short, .

  • Ch 10 exercises
    Ch. 10 transitions: - Exercises

    • Complete each of the following metacommentary templates in any way that makes sense

      • In making a case for the medical use of marijuana, I am not saying that .

      • But my argument will do more than prove that one particular industrial chemical has certain toxic properties,. In this article, I will also .

      • My point about the national obsessions with sports reinforces the belief held by many that .

      • I believe, therefore, that the war is completely unjustified. But let me back up and explain how I arrived at this

        conclusion: . In this way, I cam to believe that this war is a big mistake.