Archive for August 18th, 2011

Syntax

The word “syntax” means the careful arrangement, order, and assembling together of words. A sentence represents an example of syntax in the same way that a sentence also represents a complete sentence. When your professor writes “Syntax” on your paper, the professor is calling attention to the fact that the arrangement of the elements of the sentence causes confusion.

Even though you are working with just one sentence, you must adopt the same methodology you use when creating more than one sentence. In other words, throughout your analysis, you will create multiple sentences to illustrate the sequence of the author’s work. You may construct up to five total sentences. However, when it comes to one sentence with a syntax problem, you still have to understand the chronology of the story. If one thing comes before another, then you have to convey this within the sentence.

As you construct the one sentence, think about what has happened first, then second, and last. Create the sentence with chronology in mind, without using these words, but by placing the elements within their respective places. In other words, don’t place something that happens last in the first position within a sentence.

For example, if Jane walks the dog, goes to the store, and later goes home, don’t place Jane goes home as the first element. By implication we know that Jane has left the house to walk the dog; and we also know by implication that Jane comes back or returns home. We don’t need the words first, second, and third. By using these words, you may have to construct three sentences, but it is unnecessary to do so when the sentence is simple. In essence, always think about each element in a sentence, its relationship to other elements, and its place in the sentence.

For an extended explanation, see the comment “Sequence.”

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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Single-Space Long Quote

According to the Modern Language Association (MLA) citation style manual, it is standard to double-space a long quote set off (indented) from a paragraph in the same way that it is standard to double-space each element of the entire paper, including your name, course title, professor’s name, and date in the far left top corner of the first page.

However, there will be times, not many, where a professor will tell you to single-space the indented quote. These are quotes that exceed the standard four lines. The professor doesn’t disagree with the citation style of MLA. For her class, she just prefers not to read a lengthy quote that starts on one page and ends up on another.

Don’t worry about the standard in this case, because these are the professor’s “instructions” and he or she sets the tone and the requirements for the class. Don’t assume that just because this one professor puts a different spin on standard requirements that every professor you take after him or her will like this.

Unless your professor says otherwise, i.e. within the essay prompt or during a verbal discussion of an upcoming test, always adhere to MLA standards, or those that apply to your particular discipline (i.e., APA, Chicago Style, or Harvard Referencing Style).

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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Sequence

Of all the comments of this glossary, the explanation for “Sequence” is probably the least threatening from your professor.

This is what I did this morning: I woke up. I took a shower. I cooked and ate oatmeal. I watched television. I wrote more explanations for the glossary. I ate again at around noon. I watched television to rest my eyes from the computer. I wrote about two more explanations. At midnight tonight, I will go to bed.

What did this person do “first?” At “noon” what did this person do? What will this person do at “midnight?”

In the above example of a typical day, there isn’t any time marker signifying when something happens. However, by reading the sentences, noticing that the first action that takes place is the waking up and the fact that it is the first sentence in first place, we assume that this sentence represents the first action of the day. We also know by giving attention to the use of the future verb tense “will go” that this action hasn’t taken place yet.

The above example is a clear illustration of sequence without using “first,” “next,” and “then.” Sometimes these words are not necessary, but when you write your papers, do give attention to what happens first, second, and last. If you don’t know what event takes place first in the story, then you will, without thinking, place a “first event” in the middle of other events within your analysis.

If you don’t want to use specific words to tell the reader what happens in sequence, be sure you understand each action, its type, its connection to a character, its connection to other events, and its place (sequence) within the context of the story. Be certain you convey this in your writing. Your reader should leave understanding the chronology and sequence of events of the story.

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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Figure 63: Essay Excerpt on Auerbach’s “Odysseus’ Scar”

Below is an excerpt that falls under the comment “Sentence Unfocused.”

You may access the comment by clicking on the “S” category or by typing the title into the search box.

You may print the excerpt for class discussions.

Sample Excerpt

In a chapter entitled “Odysseus’ Scar,” Auerbach explores the visible nature of identity, whereas the modern conception is often internal.

Figure 63: Essay Excerpt on Auerbach’s “Odysseus’ Scar”

Questions

1) How does Auerbach explore the visible nature of identity?

2) What is the visible nature of identity?

3) What is the modern conception?

4) Does the “modern conception” of this sentence refer to the modern conception of the nature of identity?

5) Does Auerbach explore the modern conception?

Group Activity

1) Reread Auerbach’s work.

2) Answer the questions (above).

3) “Focus” the student’s sentence by rewriting it for clarity.

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.


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Sentence Unfocused

In taking an essay exam, within the allotted time you must be able not only to take the exam but also drown out the surrounding noise, the coughs, the people knocking their pens against the desk, and other distracting elements. You have to focus. You have to see the object, the test before you, understand each question, and be able to construct a focused response without rambling.

Your response must consist of a solid thesis, strong supporting paragraphs with relevant evidence and examples, and a conclusion that demonstrates to your professor an observer’s point of view about the subject matter, which often represents the contemplation of the larger implications.

Sometimes the allotted time is a mere 50 minutes; and sometimes it is one hour and fifty minutes. If a student doesn’t answer each question or fails to construct a solid response, then he or she can expect to receive a lower grade. In some cases, the professor is more lenient with in-class essay exams. However, a professor tends not to be forgiving with a student who has had the whole weekend to write and revise a paper.

To the professor, the whole weekend represents three 24-hour days, which is more than enough time to allow for the space of revision in order to bring more focus to a part or many parts of an essay. This is not the main point of this comment. It is just a simple, but necessary digression.

When you are writing a paper, concentrate particularly on the object before you, and focus all of your energies by drowning out the surrounding noise. In the following sample excerpt, the student hasn’t allowed enough time to revise. During the revision process, certain errors of a paper will become clear.

For example, if there are disjointed statements, abrupt transitions, and undefined phrases, then all of these issues will need to undergo correction during the revision process. The following excerpt reflects a student who doesn’t remember her thesis and who hasn’t dedicated enough time to determine if a topic sentence matches her thesis. Let’s read.

Sample Excerpt

In a chapter entitled “Odysseus’ Scar,” Auerbach explores the visible nature of identity, whereas the modern conception is often internal.

Figure 63: Essay Excerpt on Auerbach’s “Odysseus’ Scar”

Questions

1) How does Auerbach explore the visible nature of identity?

2) What is the visible nature of identity?

3) What is the modern conception?

4) Does the “modern conception” of this sentence refer to the modern conception of the nature of identity?

5) Does Auerbach explore the modern conception?

Explanation

In the sample excerpt, the student wants to focus on “identity,” because this is the center of the entire paper and the thesis; a focus on “visible nature” as a description of “identity” is on the right track. However, a sidetrack into “modern conception” has nothing to do with the overall theme of the paper, which is to focus on identity and the visible qualities that determine such things as race, how these visible elements contribute to the discrimination of certain people(s), and how they incite discrimination.

The simplest solution for solving a problem where a particular sentence lacks focus is to tell you to remember your purpose for writing the paper. For anything in the forms of examples and support that doesn’t match your thesis, your purpose, categorize it as irrelevant and throw it out.

For an extended explanation, see also the comment “Sentence Sense.”

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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Figure 62: Essay Excerpt on Ortega Y. Gasset

Below is an excerpt that falls under the comment “Sentence Sense.”

You may access the comment by clicking on the “S” category or by typing the title into the search box.

You may print the excerpt for class discussions.

Examine the following sample excerpt where the student attempts to use elevated language to describe the ideas the author expresses within the work.

Sample Excerpt

The inequality of nature, whether racial, gender-based, certain beliefs or religious, has held up to personal opinions as well as professional.

Figure 62: Essay Excerpt on Ortega Y. Gasset

Questions

1) What is the “inequality of nature?”

2) What is nature?

3) What are nature’s inequalities?

4) Is “race” or “racial” considered to be an inequality?

5) How is “gender-based” an inequality?

6) What do the personal opinions and professional opinions have to do with the inequality of nature?

Group Activity

1) Reread Gasset’s work.

2) Answer the questions (above) based upon your understanding of the work.

3) Revise and expand the student’s analysis.

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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Sentence Sense

Have you ever heard this statement: “What sense does that make?” This question has the same relationship to other types of questions and statements such as “Why in the world would you do that?” and “It doesn’t make much sense to do that?” and lastly, “You did that because . . . why?”

What makes sense to you doesn’t always make sense to everyone else. Just because a person doesn’t understand where you are coming from, what you are talking about, doesn’t mean you are wrong.

However, if you don’t have a firm understanding of what you know, and you haven’t determined the simplest method of expressing what you know, then whatever you say or write will not be as clear to the other person as you think it is to yourself.

Examine the following sample excerpt where the student attempts to use elevated language to describe the ideas the author expresses within the work.

Sample Excerpt

The inequality of nature, whether racial, gender-based, certain beliefs or religious, has held up to personal opinions as well as professional.

Figure 62: Essay Excerpt on Ortega Y. Gasset

Questions

1) What is the “inequality of nature?”

2) What is nature?

3) What are nature’s inequalities?

4) Is “race” or “racial” considered to be an inequality?

5) How is “gender-based” an inequality?

6) What do the personal opinions and professional opinions have to do with the inequality of nature?

Explanation

You have undoubtedly said to a person, “It’s all in my head. I know what I am trying to say. It’s just hard to tell you.” As you speak, you are hoping that whatever is in your head, jumbled up or not, the other person will know you enough to understand. This happens a great deal in writing.  Students have the ideas in their heads. They know what they want to write. They say it aloud to a friend in conversation, but when they begin the task of writing, what’s in their heads doesn’t transition effectively to written form.

Immediately, when confronted with expressing a certain idea in your papers, say it aloud. After this first activity, begin to write. Don’t worry about formality, or if the comma is in the right place. Just write as if you are channeling your thoughts into a journal. After you finish writing that one sentence or paragraph, then reconstruct what you have written into a formal sentence.

Always remember that a grammatical sentence must represent a complete unit. No sentence that has an adverb but is missing a verb to modify it is grammatically correct. The same idea applies to adjectives and nouns.  Before you can add an adjective to a sentence, you must have a noun. When a crucial element is missing from a sentence, one needed to make the sentence function properly, meanings become jumbled together. Such an error causes a reader not to understand the connection between the elements within a sentence.

The sentence of the sample excerpt is not grammatically incorrect.  However, the ideas are so jumbled together that the reader doesn’t know how the elements after the first comma relate to the “inequality of nature.” Make all sentences grammatical by following the basic principles of grammar, which include references to subject-verb agreement and the functions of both nouns and adjectives. In addition, always define terms and demonstrate their connection.

Revision Considerations

Don’t assume that just because you have an understanding in your head about what is going on in the sentence that the reader and your professor will understand also. Take the time to be thorough so your reader doesn’t begin to feel as though he or she is in a maze trying to find the light!

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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Figure 61: Essay Excerpt on Ortega Y. Gasset

THIS POST IS UNDER DEVELOPMENT. Add a reference to Gasset’s work later. Last rev. February 8, 2012.

Below is an excerpt that falls under the comment “Sense.”

You may access the comment by clicking on the “S” category or by typing the title into the search box.

You may print the excerpt for class discussions.

Sample Excerpt

Several critics support Gasset’s assertion. They prove with their examples, observations, and careful analysis the validity of Gassett’s view.

Figure 61: Essay Excerpt on Ortega Y. Gasset

Questions

1) How do the critics use their examples, observations, and analyses to validate Gasset’s assertion?

2) What are the critics’ observations?

3) What are the critics’ examples?

4) What is each critic’s analysis?

5) What is each critic’s method?

6) What are the critics trying to prove?

Group Activity

1) Review Gasset’s work.

2) Answer the questions.

3) Based upon your answers, rewrite and expand the student’s analysis.

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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Sense

If a difference is present within your paper between what you have read and what you understand (reason), then your professor will write “sense” in the margins to highlight a problem with your interpretation.

We take in life, and all its elements, through our five basic senses. What we see, hear, touch, taste, and smell affect us. We are gifted with these senses for the sole purpose of discriminating and differentiating between one thing and its other. When we write the academic paper, we use not only the physical sense of sight, but also sense in terms of reason.

We express reason through utilizing our abilities to “perceive,” “judge,” and “interpret,” to look directly at an object and examine it with the purpose of determining its value and usefulness. When you read a text (an object), you approach it with the purpose of examining it to test its value, its worthiness.

If you have determined after reading that it is indeed worthy of consideration for use by just applying the basic sense of sight, then you approach the text differently when you begin to read and understand its content, which includes what the author believes about a particular idea and the author’s opinions.

After you finish writing, your response (in the form of an essay) to the text must reflect your understanding of what you have just read. Your understanding, as illustrated through the medium of analysis, represents your ability to take in what you read, process it, and produce a final product that is indicative of careful and logical reasoning.

With this in mind, the best solution to filling the gap between what you read and what you understand is to reread a section of the text that you are having problems with and think about who the major players are. Ask yourself who is doing what to whom, why, and for what reason. The excerpt below is an example of a student’s learning gap. The student reads the text, processes the information, but fails to use reason and logic to reveal all of the qualities of the text. In essence, what you see is what you get in the student’s paper. However, what you read is what the professor must get. Notice the gaps in the student’s analysis.

Sample Excerpt

Several critics support Gasset’s assertion. They prove with their examples, observations, and careful analysis the validity of Gassett’s view.

Figure 61: Essay Excerpt on Ortega Y. Gasset

Questions

1) How do the critics use their examples, observations, and analyses to validate Gasset’s assertion?

2) What are the critics’ observations?

3) What are the critics’ examples?

4) What is each critic’s analysis?

5) What is each critic’s method?

6) What are the critics trying to prove?

Revision Considerations

Revising a section of your paper for “sense” is not easy, but it is necessary. How you present your ideas logically will affect your professor’s interpretation of your analysis. You must understand what you read and you must demonstrate this understanding within your writing.

Therefore, when developing editing objectives for revising sections for “sense,” consider correcting those areas of your paper where you have included steps, cause and effect parallels, historical context, and deductive reasoning. These are the areas of your paper that if not revised might contribute to the lowering of your grade.

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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Rough

The comment “Rough” oftentimes refers to the transitions between paragraphs.

What happens when you drive a car down a nice paved road? The ride is pleasant. It is easy. The trip in the car is endurable. However, what happens when you stumble onto a bumpy road with pebbles and rocks and potholes? You are not happy. You become discontented, annoyed, and frustrated. You see no end in sight. If you had your way, you would turn the car around just to get back to that paved, smooth road.

As your professor reads your paper, he notices that everything from the introduction to a couple of paragraphs in the body of your paper is smooth. The read is pleasant. Your professor is eager to continue. However, when you abruptly change roads by changing ideas, without signaling or warning that you are about to do so, then your transitions between paragraphs appear rough and unpleasant for the reader. As a solution, always prepare the reader for when you are about to change lanes, when you are leaving one thought to the next.

For example, by law, you are required to turn on your signal before changing lanes. The same is true for writing the academic paper. According to the standards of academic writing, it is important that you tell the reader when you are moving to the next idea. Otherwise you will leave the professor without a warning signal and he will endure a bumpy road trying to understand your paper.

We call this rule of law “Using Transitions,” which means that you must use transitional phrasing before moving on to the next thought; and you must also use it to signify connections between ideas housed within a paragraph. Always stop at stop signs. Yield when the yellow light is on. Go when the green light flashes. When you need to change lanes, turn on the signal.

In other words, finish one thought before going on to the next; and use transitional words such as “in addition” and “in contrast” to signal to the reader when you are continuing a thought or making a change.

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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