Reinking, J. A., et al. Strategies for Successful Writing: A Rhetoric, Research Guide, Reader, and Handbook. Toronto: Pearson Canada, 2010. Print.
What is a paraphrase?
A retelling in your own words and your own style (voice)
A "translation" into layman's terms
A restatement of meaning (not a transcription, word for word)
Why should we use a paraphrase?
To explain, clarify, writing that is difficult because it is: dense, archaic, abstract, confusing, jargon.
While studying, to discover what you know or do not know.
To sharpen reading skills, analysis of sentence structure, and build vocabulary
To include another's ideas into your own writing for: amplification, clarification, illustration, development of an argument
What are the characteristics of a good paraphrase?
It accurately restates the original.
Sentence structure differs from the original.
It contains only ordinary words.
It is around the same length as the original.
It stands alone. (It is a complete paragraph as the original author might had written it.)
Unique words or phrases are quoted or changed.
Exercise A: Paraphrase the following phrases:
How should I write a paraphrase?
Note: Use the original's nouns, verbs, etc., when their denotations are simple, i.e., when no simpler synonyms exist.
When may I quote in a paraphrase?
Exercise B: Read the following paragraph and state why versions 1 and 2 are plagiarized.
The "injuries and insolencies: that caused conflict on the frontier were usually rooted in simple trespass either by the English cattle or hogs onto the the unfenced cornfields of the Indians or by the Indian habit of moving freely over open fields that the English regarded as sacred private property. (Robert M. Utley and Wilcomb E Washburn. Indian Wars)
1. Conflict on the frontier between English and Indians was usually rooted in simple trespass either by English animals onto the unfenced cornfields of the Indians or by the Indian habit of moving freely over open fields that the English considered to be their own private property. (Ans. B.1.)
2. Conflict on the frontier between the English and the Indians was usually rooted in a lack of respect for property. The English cattle and hogs were permitted to trespass on the unfenced cornfields of the Indians. The Indians trespassed freely on private property that the English regarded as sacred. (Ans. B.2.)
Here is a successfully paraphrased version.
Utley and Washburn maintain that the frontier conflict between the English and the Indians often had a simple cause - trespassing on the property of the other. The English permitted their animals to wander on cornfields that the Indians refused to fence. The Indians, with little notion of private property, wandered freely over English fields.
How can plagiarism be spotted (question mark)
Each of us writes with a unique voice or style. Shifts in style can usually be identified easily and arouse suspicion. Note that the
first paragraph appears to have been written by an average writer, while the second has been written by one who is experienced
in academic and professional writing.
Exercise C: Compare the two paragraphs that follow for diction (word choice) and sentence structure.
#1 Political campaigns have become more and more like entertainment. To get elected, politicians advertise themselves like commercial products. The commercials do not say much. Instead, they have pictures, music, and slogans.
#2 What is happening is that the use of extended and complex language is being rapidly replaced by gestures, images, and formats of the arts of show business, toward which most of the new media, especially television, are powerfully disposed. The result is that in the political domain, as well as in other arenas of public discourse - religion and commerce, for example - Americans no longer talk to each other; they entertain each other.
Practice: Paraphrase each of the following passages and give credit to the source within the paraphrase.
1. Throughout the Middle Ages, and even later, it was widely believed that London had once been inhabited by giants, a legend which derived from the massive bones which were occasionally unearthed in and around the City. Sometimes these finds were put on display in City churches: during the sixteenth century, for instance, St. Mary Aldermary exhibited a huge thigh-bone, "more than after the proportion of five shank bones of any man now living," together with a twelve-foot drawing of a Goliath-like figure to assist the ignorant public in the work of reconstruction. (Robert Gray. A History of London.)
2. A marathon is any kind of endurance contest - running, dancing, bicycling, flagpole-sitting. It is named for the narrow valley in Greece where in 490 B.C. the Athenians, under Miltiades, pinned down superior Persian forces so that they could not use their cavalry, and proceeded to slaughter them. The Persians lost 6,4000 men in the battle; the Greeks, 192. Miltiades, fearing that the Athenians might surrender to Persian attack by sea in ignorance of the victory at Marathon, dispatched Pheidippides, his fastest runner, to take home the good news. Though nearly exhausted, having already run to Sparta and back, Pheidippides raced twenty-some miles to Athens, gasped out "Rejoice - we conquer!" and fell dead. (Willard R. Espy. Thou Improper, Thou Uncommon Noun)
Quiz: Follow this link to go to the Knowledge Review. (Multiple answers are possible. Each question must be totally correct to score.)
Paraphrase this paragraph by Margaret Mead. Then hand it to a colleague who will review it for accuracy, sentence structure, and diction.
Homework: Paraphrase this paragraph, which is a translation of the Marquis de Condorcet. It is a difficult paragraph, typical of the kind of writing you might want to paraphrase.
If man can, with almost complete assurance, predict phenomena when he knows their
laws, and if, even when he does not, he can still, with great expectation of success,
forecast the future on the basis of his experience of the past, why, then, should it be
regarded as a fantastic undertaking to sketch, with some pretense to truth, the future
destiny of man on the basis of his history? The sole foundation for belief in the natural
sciences is this idea, that the general laws directing the phenomena of the universe,
known or unknown, are necessary and constant. Why should this principle be any less
true for the development of the intellectual and moral faculties of man than for the
operations of nature?
Condorcet Parsing (for teaching)
Black Board .doc (for teaching)
1. Conflict on the frontier between English and Indians was usually rooted in simple trespass either by English animals onto
the unfenced cornfields of the Indians or by the Indian habit of moving freely over open fields that the English considered to be
their own private property. (The only difference is that only the highlighted words have been replaced. Also, there is no citation.)
Return to Exercise B.
2. Conflict on the frontier between the English and the Indians was usually rooted in a lack of respect for property. The English
cattle and hogs were permitted to trespass on the unfenced cornfields of the Indians. The Indians trespassed freely on private
property that the English regarded as sacred. (Phrases still copied from original. No citation.)
Return to Exercise B.