A terrific 2-sentence pair by SY

In this 2-sentence pair by SY, I especially like the very short sentence coming after the longer one:

Firstly, in “Chanticleer and Renard the Fox or The Trickster Tricked,” the conflict is between a wise character, Chanticleer, and a clever character, Renard. In this fable the wise character prevails.

Online anaphora demonstration

From the University of Sydney:

See how words ‘without content’ point or link to content words in other sentences…”

Examples of words without content:

  • this
  • such
  • these

Examples of words with content:

  • cat
  • dog
  • house
  • run
  • sit
  • stay

DIRECTIONS for using the site:

  1. Click on Step 5 
  2. Read the paragraph.
  3. Click START.

Source:
Clearer Writing by the University of Sydney

I think of “words without content” — function words — as words whose meaning you can’t find in the dictionary. The meaning lies in the conversation you are having or the passage you are reading.

Which paragraph is easier to read and why?

One of the paragraphs in this post appears in World History: Patterns of Interaction, Grades 9-12 (Michigan). New York: McDougal Littell, 2008. (Print.) (378.)

PARAGRAPH 1:
German kings after Frederick, including his grandson Frederick II, continued their attempts to revive Charlemagne’s empire and his alliance with the Church. This policy led to wars with Italian cities and to further clashes with the Pope. Conflicts were one reason why the feudal states of Germany did not unify during the Middle Ages. Another reason was that the system of German princes electing the king weakened royal authority. German rulers controlled fewer royal lands to use as a base of power than French and English kings of the same period, who, as you will learn in Chapter 14, were establishing strong central authority.

PARAGRAPH 2
German kings after Frederick, including Frederick’s grandson Frederick II, were no more successful than Frederick had been. They, too, failed to revive Charlemagne’s empire and his alliance with the Pope. They incited fruitless wars with Italian cities and further clashes with the Pope, and the constant conflict undermined their ability to unify Germany’s feudal states under one king. The kings were weakened further by Germany’s political system, which allowed German princes to elect the king. They also held relatively few royal lands compared to the French and English kings, who controlled large territories. As you will learn in Chapter 14, French and English kings during this period were establishing strong central authority. Meanwhile the German kings succeeded neither in reviving the Empire nor in unifying the country.

PARAGRAPH 3
The German kings after Frederick, including his grandson Frederick II, continued Frederick’s efforts to revive Charlemagne’s empire and his alliance with the Church, but they did not succeed. Like Frederick, they incited fruitless wars with Italian cities and further clashes with the Pope, and the constant conflict undermined their ability to unify Germany’s feudal states under one king. The kings were further weakened by the German political system, which allowed German princes to elect the king, and by their relative lack of royal lands compared to the large territories controlled by French and English kings of the same period, who, as you will learn in Chapter 14, were establishing strong central authority in their own countries. Frederick’s successors succeeded neither in reviving the empire nor in unifying their country.

ANSWER

Terrific student revisions of Martha Kolln’s “getting chilled” exercise

BACKGROUND: Martha Kolln explains cohesion in writing

In class a few weeks ago (10/25/2012), students revised the ‘getting chilled’ passage from Martha Kolln’s Rhetorical Grammar. I was very impressed by the results.

Here’s the passage:

Getting chilled or getting your feet wet won’t cause a cold. Weather is not the culprit that causes the common cold. Viruses are to blame.

A major problem with this passage is that it has 3 different grammatical SUBJECTS in just 3 independent clauses:

  1. Getting chilled or getting your feet wet || won’t cause a cold.
  2. Weather || is not the culprit that causes the common cold.
  3. Viruses || are to blame.

STUDENT REVISIONS:

Getting chilled or getting your feet wet won’t cause a cold. The common cold is not caused by weather, but by viruses.
-JG

Getting chilled or getting your feet wet won’t cause a cold. The common cold is not caused by weather; viruses are to blame.
-DP

Getting chilled or getting your feet wet won’t cause a cold. A common cold cannot be blamed on the weather. However, it can be blamed on viruses.
-GC

The common cold is not caused by getting your feet wet or getting chilled. Cold weather is not the culprit that causes the common cold, but viruses are to blame.
-JB

Kolln, Martha J. Rhetorical Grammar: Grammatical Choices, Rhetorical Effects. 5th ed. New York: Longman 2006. (Print.) (72.)

Richard Hudson defines anaphora

Anaphora is the name for the relationship between she and Mary in—

Mary looked out of the window. The sky looked threatening, so she decided to take an umbrella.

What the two highlighted words share is the fact that they both refer to the same person – they have the same reference. The word she refers back to the word Mary without repeating the name. This ‘reference back’ is called anaphora. Successful writers keep track of the various people and things that they mention by building a reference chain by means of anaphoric devices such as pronouns. KS3 writers sometimes fail to make these links clear, thus spoiling the coherence of their writing.

Introduction: coherence, anaphora and reference
Richard Hudson

More from William J. Kerrigan on Step 6

Part 1: “Step 6 stuns some people.”

William J. Kerrigan explains Step 6:

STEP 6. Make sure every sentence in your theme is connected with, and makes a clear reference to, the preceding sentence.

1.
Repeat in Sentence B (the second of any two sentences) a word used in sentence A (the first of those two sentences).
EXAMPLE: The fable is a short tale designed to teach a lesson. The purpose of the fable is to give advice.

2.
Use in sentence B a synonym of a word in sentence A.
EXAMPLE: Cats are social animals. Feline behavior is different from what most people believe.
EXAMPLE: Researchers presented four crows with a pile of stones and a narrow flask of water at the bottom of which was a worm. The birds all picked up the stones and placed them in the flask, raising the water level to the point where they could reach the worm.

3.
Use a pronoun in sentence B to refer to an antecedent in sentence A.
EXAMPLE: The characters in fables are flat. They personify virtues and vices.

4.
Use in sentence B an antonym [opposite] of a word in sentence A.
[Use this technique when you’re showing a contrast or difference.]
EXAMPLE: In the far south of Africa, the Dutch and British and other Europeans were already living and trading….But
 north of Karuman lay the rest of the huge continent of Africa

, hundreds and hundreds of miles that no European had ever seen.
["South" and "north" are opposites.]

5.
Use in sentence B a word commonly paired with a word in sentence A.
EXAMPLE: The Grimms, however, changed more than the style of the tales. They changed the content.
[“Style” and “content” are usually associated in discussions of fiction. Source: “The Lure of the Fairy Tale by Joan Acocella | The New Yorker | 7.23.2012

6.
Repeat a sentence structure.
EXAMPLE: I like pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals. – Winston Churchill
DOGS LOOK UP TO US
CATS LOOK DOWN ON
Same structure, same rhythm.

7.
Use a connective in sentence B to refer to an idea in sentence A.
EXAMPLES: for, therefore, however, although, etc.

AND SEE:
William J. Kerrigan explains Step 6 and tells a story 
Anaphora: all posts
Cohesion and coherence: all posts

William J Kerrigan on Step 6

from Writing to the Point:

STEP 6. Make sure every sentence in your theme is connected with, and makes a clear reference to, the preceding sentence.

[Step 6] stuns some people. It seems to claim to be a truth—a big truth—about all writing; yet since they have never heard it before, how can it be true?

In fact, I had teaching with me once, as a practice teacher, an intelligent young woman who was doing graduate work in English at one of our state universities. She had previously been a technical editor in the aerospace industry. She enjoyed her work teaching Steps 1 through 5 and did it excellently, I am happy to say. I suspect Step 5 may have been something of an eye-opener for her; but when I proposed Step 6 to her, she looked at me as if I were out of my mind. “Why, that’s simply not so,” she said.

“Well,” I said, “don’t take my word for it. But go to any printed essay or article that you think is well written, and see whether every sentence in it doesn’t connect with, and make clear reference to, the preceding sentence.”

She went away shaking her head, her eyes clouded with doubt. But a couple of days later she returned, after having done some conscientious and extensive investigation, and said simply, “Now I see why I haven’t been getting A’s on my papers at the university.”

AND SEE:
William J. Kerrigan on Step 6:
..7 ways to connect sentences

X-1-2-3: all posts
Anaphora: all posts
Cohesion and coherence: all posts

Anaphora in a two-sentence pair

The words in blue are examples of anaphora:

Sentence fragments have long been a form that most teachers try to eradicate from student writing. However well intentioned this may be, does it help students become better writers of nonfiction?

The words this and it both refer to trying to eradicate sentence fragments from student writing.

When writers use different words or expressions to “rename” or refer back to something that appeared earlier in the text, they are using anaphora.

To understand what a word like “this” or “it” means, you have to know which word or words, or which idea, “this” or “it” has replaced.

Here’s what the two sentences above might sound like without “this” and “it”:

Sentence fragments have long been a form that most teachers try to eradicate from student writing. However well intentioned trying to eradicate sentence fragments from student writing may be, does trying to eradicate sentence fragments from student writing help students become better writers of nonfiction?

As a general rule, you can’t find out what anaphora mean by looking them up in the dictionary.

The meaning of anaphora is inside the text you are reading, not the dictionary.

FULL PASSAGE HERE

AND SEE:
William J. Kerrigan on Step 6

Anaphora in a passage on sentence fragments

I’ve marked the anaphora in this passage from Edgar H. Schuster’s “A Fresh Look at Sentence Fragments”:

Sentence fragments have long been a form that most teachers try to eradicate from student writing. However well intentioned this may be, does it help students become better writers of nonfiction? Partly to answer this question, I examined the fifty essays reprinted in The Best American Essays 2001 (Norris and Atwan) and The Best American Essays, 2003 (Fadiman and Atwan).

It was exciting to observe the range of the syntactic resources these writers called on and used effectively. They include some things [see below] we English teachers commonly teach against, such as comma splices, single-sentence paragraphs, even occasional rambling sentences. But what struck me [see below] far more forcefully was the extent to which these essayists used sentence fragments. At the outset, it should be said that the backbone of virtually every essay in these collections is the complete, well-formed English sentence. Nevertheless, I found 505 sentence fragments in the fifty essays.

Now I’ve numbered the anaphora and explained what they refer to:

Sentence fragments have long been a form that most teachers try to eradicate from student writing. However well intentioned this [1] may be, does it [2] help students become better writers of nonfiction? Partly to answer this question [3], I examined the fifty essays reprinted in The Best American Essays 2001 (Norris and Atwan) and The Best American Essays, 2003 (Fadiman and Atwan).

It was exciting to observe the range of the syntactic resources these writers [4] called on and used effectively. They [5] include some things [see below] we English teachers commonly teach against, such as comma splices, single-sentence paragraphs, even occasional rambling sentences. But what struck me [see below] far more forcefully was the extent to which these essayists [6] used sentence fragments. At the outset, it should be said that the backbone of virtually every essay in these collections [7] is the complete, well-formed English sentence. Nevertheless, I found 505 sentence fragments in the fifty essays. [8]

  1. this” refers back to teachers trying to eradicate sentence fragments from student writing
  2. it” also refers to teachers trying to eradicate sentence fragments from student writing
  3. this question” refers back to the question “Does trying to eradicate sentence fragments from student writing help students become better writers?”
  4. these writersrefers back to the authors of the essays in The Best American Essays 2001 and 200e.
  5. Theyrefers back to the syntactic resources the authors of the essays in The Best American Essays use.
  6. these essayists refers back to the authors of the essays in the two Best American Essays books
  7. these collectionsrefers back to the two Best American Essays books
  8. the fifty essaysrefers back to the fifty essays in the two Best American Essay books

The words in orange are examples of cataphora. “Things” and “what struck me” both refer forward to words in the passage.

  1. things refers forward to comma splices, single-sentence paragraphs, and rambling sentences
  2. what struck me refers forward to “the extent to which essayists in the 2 books used comma splices, single-sentence paragraphs, and rambling sentences.”

Schuster, Edgar H. “A Fresh Look at Sentence Fragments.” The English Journal 95.5 (2006). Print. (78-83).

(The original passage, including links, is here.)

AND SEE:
William J. Kerrigan on Step 6

JG’s text reconstruction and an example of ‘anaphora’

Yesterday in class we did a text reconstruction exercise using a paragraph from Greenbaum and Nelson’s An Introduction to English Grammar.

INSTRUCTIONS: Number the sentences in the order that makes sense. Then write the paragraph on the lines below. Important: don’t copy word for word. Try to remember 5 to 10 words (and punctuation marks) at a time.

_____ Every native speaker of English can easily judge that ‘Home computers are now much cheaper’ is a possible English sentence, whereas “Home computers now much are cheaper” is not, because they know that “much” is wrongly positioned in the second example.
_____ Some combinations of words are possible in English, while others are not possible.
_____ The ability to recognise such distinctions is evidence that in some sense native speakers already know the rules of grammar, even if they have never formally studied grammar….”

JG’s arrangement:
Every native speaker of English can easily judge that ‘Home computers are now much cheaper’ is a possible English sentence, whereas “Home computers now much are cheaper” is not, because they know that “much” is wrongly positioned in the second example. The ability to recognise such distinctions is evidence that in some sense native speakers already know the rules of grammar, even if they have never formally studied grammar….” Some combinations of words are possible in English, while others are not possible.

The authors’ arrangement:
Some combinations of words are possible in English, while others are not possible. Every native speaker of English can easily judge that ‘Home computers are now much cheaper’ is a possible English sentence, whereas “Home computers now much are cheaper” is not, because they know that “much” is wrongly positioned in the second example. The ability to recognise such distinctions is evidence that in some sense native speakers already know the rules of grammar, even if they have never formally studied grammar….”

I like both!

NOTE: the words “such distinctions” refer to the distinction between “Home computers are now much cheaper” and “Home computers now much are cheaper.”

The phrase “such distinctions” is an example of anaphora. Anaphora refer back to content that has already appeared in previous sentences, not to something new outside the text. To understand what you’re reading, you have to be able to tell the difference.

I’ll post more examples, and we’ll work on this in class.

__1__ Every native speaker of English can easily judge that ‘Home computers are now much cheaper’ is a possible English sentence, whereas “Home computers now much are cheaper” is not, because they know that “much” is wrongly positioned in the second example.
__3__ Some combinations of words are possible in English, while others are not possible.
__2__ The ability to recognise such distinctions is evidence that in some sense native speakers already know the rules of grammar, even if they have never formally studied grammar….”

AND SEE:
William J. Kerrigan on Step 6

Martha Kolln explains cohesion in writing

Martha Kolln‘s  three methods of achieving paragraph cohesion:

  1. The subject of all or most sentences in the paragraph is the same.
  2. In each two-sentence pair, information included in the predicate of the 1st sentence becomes the subject of the 2nd sentence. In other words, something in the end of Sentence 1 becomes the beginning of Sentence 2.
  3. In paragraphs of description, a list of details follows the topic sentence. In such paragraphs, you don’t need to use explicit transitions, although you certainly may if you wish. SEE: SM’s cohesive paragraph

Note that in all three cases, “old” information comes before new information: sentences begin with something we ‘know’ (or have already read about, usually in the preceding sentence), then introduce something new in the predicate. This old-to-new principle is true with the paragraph of descriptive details because the reader knows the situation each detail refers to. The paragraph topic is old; each sentence in the list is new (see the example below).

EXAMPLES

1. Same subject – same subject

Despite the immense racial gulf separating them, Lincoln and Douglass had a lot in common. They were the two pre-eminent self-made men of their era. Lincoln was born dirt poor, had less than a year of formal schooling and became one of the nation’s greatest Presidents. Douglass spent the first 20 years of his life as a slave, had no formal schooling–in fact, his masters forbade him to read or write–and became one of the nation’s greatest writers and activists. Though nine years younger, Douglass overshadowed Lincoln as a public figure during the 15 years before the Civil War. He published two best-selling autobiographies before the age of 40, edited his own newspaper beginning in 1847 and was a brilliant orator–even better than Lincoln–at a time when public speaking was a major source of entertainment and power.

2. Predicate becomes Subject

Thunderstorms can be categorized as single cell or multicell.

Basically, a single-cell thunderstorm is the lone thunderstorm that forms on a hot humid day. The heat and humidity of the day is the only trigger for the storm. This type of storm forms in an environment with little difference in the wind speed and direction—or wind shear—between the surface and cloud level.
– Joe Murgo (Centre Daily Times)

3. List of details in paragraph of description

Our trip to Florida for spring break turned out to be a disaster. The hotel room we rented was miserable—shabby and stuffy and downright depressing. The food we could afford made our dining hall remembrances from campus seem positively gourmet. The daily transportation to the beach we had been promised showed up only once and even then was an hour late.

Source: Kolln, Martha J. Rhetorical Grammar: Grammatical Choices, Rhetorical Effects. 5th ed.  New York: Longman 2006. 69. Print.

AND SEE:
Sentence Cohesion – excerpt from Rhetorical Grammar
Coherent paragraphs & the bride on her wedding day

“Cohesive connectors” at Chalk ‘n Talk – video

A terrific, short video on cohesion in paragraphs that we watched in class Wednesday.

Here are two versions of the same paragraph, one with explicit transitions and one with what the instructor calls “cohesive connectors”:

One reason that northern Canada is sparsely populated is because of its bitterly cold climate. For example, in the summer, northern parts of the country can receive snowfalls, and in the winter it can be as cold as -60C. Another reason for not living in the area is that the daylight hours in the winter are severely limited.

One reason that northern Canada is sparsely populated is because of its bitterly cold climate. Weather extremes range from the odd summer snowstorm to -60C temperatures during the long winter nights. Daylight, or the lack of it, is another reason people don’t live there.

Chalk ‘n Talk

Two comments. The Chalk ‘n Talk instructor seems to regard the first paragraph as an example of something not to do. I disagree. There is nothing wrong with the first paragraph; it is crystal clear, and it hangs together. It is cohesive.

Just about everyone in class seemed to like the second paragraph better, and I probably do, too. But you should never hesitate to use explicit transitions like “for example” and “another reason” in your writing. Such expressions are tremendously useful and not to be scorned. They keep your reader on track.

One more observation. Here, again, are Martha Kolln‘s  three methods of achieving paragraph cohesion:

  1. The subject of all or most sentences in the paragraph is the same.
  2. In each two-sentence pair, information included in the predicate of the 1st sentence becomes the subject of the 2nd sentence. Usually this means that something in the end of Sentence 1 becomes the beginning of Sentence 2.
  3. In paragraphs of description, a list of details follows the topic sentence.

The second paragraph above uses a variant of number 2.

The words “bitterly cold climate” at the end of Sentence 1 become the closely related concept “weather extremes” in the subject of Sentence 2.  Then “nights,” at the end of Sentence 2, becomes the closely related concept “daylight” in the subject of sentence 3. The links are logical and easy to follow.

AND SEE:
Sentence Cohesion – excerpt from Rhetorical Grammar
Kolln, Martha J. Rhetorical Grammar:
..Grammatical Choices, Rhetorical Effects
.
Coherent paragraphs & the bride on her wedding day

NV’s perfect paragraph

When the Grimms revised their tales, they made the stories less controversial but more violent. To achieve this goal, they took out realistic violence and left in the violence that parents thought was acceptable. For example, they removed “The Starving Children,” a story in which a mother is willing to eat her own child due to hunger. Also, in “Cinderella,” the birds poke out her stepsisters’ eyes.

This is a wonderful paragraph – wonderful and also pretty rare in the work of novice writers, I think. A paragraph to aspire to!

Here’s a break-down:

  1. TOPIC SENTENCEWhen the Grimms revised their tales, they made the stories less controversial but more violent.
  2. ELABORATION and/or EXPLANATION of the topicTo achieve this goal, they took out realistic violence and left in the violence that parents thought was acceptable.
  3. EXAMPLES that illustrate and provide evidence NV’s claim is true: For example, they removed “The Starving Children,” a story in which a mother is willing to eat her own child due to hunger. Also, in “Cinderella,” the birds poke out her stepsisters’ eyes.

Number #2 – ELABORATION &/or EXPLANATION – makes this paragraph a stand-out. Most students open with a topic sentence and then proceed directly to their examples. That is a perfectly fine way to write a paragraph, and you’ll see many such paragraphs in newspapers, magazines, and books, as well as on websites.

However, in analytical writing, which is what most college writing entails, we often want something “more,” and that something more goes by various names, including “elaboration,” “development,” or “analysis,” among others.

Analysis is what NV has done here: she has analyzed what kind of violence the Grimm brothers included in the 2nd edition, and what kind they cut. Wonderful!

postscriptWilliam J. Kerrigan always told his students to “say a lot about a little, not a little about a lot.”

He was talking about paragraph development.

update 4/26/2012: I’ve posted a question for you to answer in the Comment.

Coherent paragraphs & the bride on her wedding day

Excellent advice from the Dartmouth Writing Program:

While coherence is a complicated and difficult matter to address, we do have a couple of tricks for you that will help your sentences to “flow.” Silly as it sounds, you should “dress” your sentences the way a bride might – wearing, as the saying goes, something old and something new. In other words, each sentence you write should begin with the old – that is, with something that looks back to the previous sentence. Then your sentence should move on to telling the reader something new. If you do this, your line of reasoning will be easier for your reader to follow.

While this advice sounds simple enough, it is in fact not always easy to follow.

Read the rest…(scroll down to page 3)

AND SEE:
3 methods of creating a cohesive paragraph