Concise, Specific Language/Transitions

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HOW TO SAY IT: USING CONCISE,
SPECIFIC LANGUAGE, TRANSITIONS,
AND ACTIVE VERBS
UWC Writing Workshop
Fall 2013
BEFORE WE DIVE IN…
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http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=4096
(The Daily Show with Jon Stewart-watch for
language-and a good laugh!)
WHAT DO THESE WORDS MEAN TO YOU?
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Concise Language
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Specific Language
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Transitions
WHERE TO GO IF YOU WANT GUIDANCE!
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A Writer’s Resource- “Editing for Clarity” (pgs. 417470, especially 459-468)
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Wordy Sentences
Missing Words
Mixed Construction
Confusing Shifts
Faulty Parallelisms
Misplaced & Dangling Modifiers
Coordination and Subordination
Sentence Variety
Active Verbs
Appropriate Language
The UWC
Your Professor
WHAT IS CONCISE/SPECIFIC LANGUAGE?
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Concise: expressing or covering much in few
words; brief in form but comprehensive in scope
Specific: having a special application, bearing,
or reference; specifying, explicit, or definite; to
state one’s specific purpose; concerned specifically
with the item or subject named
Language: a body of words and the systems for
their use; common to a people who are of the
same community or nation, the same
geographical area, or the same cultural tradition
HOW CAN I BECOME CONCISE AND
SPECIFIC IN MY WRITING?
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AVOID…
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Doubling of Words (instead, choose one):
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Intensifiers, Qualifiers (instead, omit or give specific
details):
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Mutual agreement (agreement)
Consensus of opinion (consensus)
Whether or not (whether)
Very
Extremely
Really
Definitely
Formulaic Phrases (instead, use a one-word form or omit):
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For the purpose of (to)
At this point in time (now)
Due to the fact that (because)
In the near future (soon)
HOW CAN I BECOME CONCISE AND
SPECIFIC IN MY WRITING?
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AVOID…
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Catch-all Terms (instead, omit wherever possible):
Aspect
 Case
 Factor
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Padded Verbs (instead, use a one-word form):
To have an expectation (to expect)
 To make an arrangement (to arrange)
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Unnecessary “to be” and “being” (instead, omit):
The program is considered to be effective./The program is
considered effective OR The program is effective
 because of the terrain being rough/because of the rough
terrain
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HOW CAN I BECOME CONCISE AND
SPECIFIC IN MY WRITING?
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AVOID…
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Passive Verbs (instead, use active voice-preferably
with a personal subject):
The beveling jig is said by most users to be faulty./Most
users say the beveling jig is faulty.
 http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/539/1/ (Great
site for writing in general!)
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Overuse of Relative Structures (“who,” “which,”
“that”-instead, omit):
It was Confucius who said…/Confucius said…
 I think that X is the case…/X is the case, as the evidence
shows…
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PRACTICE #1
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Revise the sentences to state their meaning
in fewer words. Avoid passive voice,
needless repetition, and wordy phrases and
clauses. The first sentence is not wordy and
can serve as an example.
PRACTICE #2
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Combine each sentence group into one
concise sentence.
WHAT ARE TRANSITIONS?
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Transitions work as glue that holds our ideas and
our essay together. Transitions…
Can help you establish logical connections
between sentences, paragraphs, and sections of
your papers
 Tell readers what to do with the information
you present to them
 Function as signs for readers that tell them
how to think about, organize, and react to old
and new ideas as they read through what you
have written
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TYPES OF TRANSITIONS
Transitions between sections: in longer
assignments, it may be necessary/helpful to
include transitional paragraphs that summarize
the information just covered and specify the
relevance of the information to the discussion in
the following sections
 Transitions between paragraphs: can help
you highlight a relationship that already exists
by summarizing the previous paragraph and
suggesting something in the content of the
paragraph that follows; can be a word or two, a
phrase, or a sentence
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TYPES OF TRANSITIONS
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Transitions within paragraphs: act as cues by
helping to anticipate what is coming before they
read it; tend to be single words or short phrases
TRANSITIONAL EXPRESSIONS
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Similarity: also, in the same way, just as…so too
Exception/Contrast: but, however, in spite of
Sequence/Order: first, second, third…next
Time: after, afterward, at last, before, currently
Example: for example, for instance, namely
Emphasis: even, indeed, in fact, of course
Place/Position: above, adjacent, below, beyond
Cause and Effect: accordingly, consequently, hence
Additional Support or Evidence: additionally,
again, also, besides
Conclusion/Summary: finally, in a word, in brief
SO…REMEMBER:

A Writer’s Resource- “Editing for Clarity” (pgs. 417470, especially 459-468)












Wordy Sentences
Missing Words
Mixed Construction
Confusing Shifts
Faulty Parallelisms
Misplaced & Dangling Modifiers
Coordination and Subordination
Sentence Variety
Active Verbs
Appropriate Language
The UWC
Your Professor
NOW…VERBS!!
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When you think about using appropriate,
powerful verbs in your writing, consider the
following:
Use Interesting Verbs
 Use Verbs You Know
 Don’t Use Passive Voice
 Use Literary Present
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USE INTERESTING VERBS
NOT: is, was, are, were, shows, states, says, uses,
seems, appears (very BORING!)
 Examples:
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Incorrect: In Something to Declare, Julia Alvarez
shows that there is a connection between her writing
and society by writing about her experiences with
competing cultural expectations.
 Correct: In this case, in Something to Declare, Julia
Alvarez explores her experiences with competing
cultural expectations in order to construct a
connection between her writing and society.
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USE VERBS YOU KNOW
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A thesaurus can make you sound ridiculous if you
choose words that don’t fit in the context of your
sentence. Use your online access to the Oxford
English Dictionary to see a word in a zillion contexts,
or “Google” the word to see how it is used or just for a
definition.
Example:
Incorrect: Although Alvarez’s poems and essays commence
from a particularly American-Hispanic perspective, she
thoroughly reconnoiters basic human characteristics.
 Correct: Although Alvarez’s poems and essays stem from a
particularly American-Hispanic perspective, she
thoroughly scrutinizes basic human characteristics.
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DON’T USE PASSIVE VOICE
It is sometimes okay! You just need to be careful
not to overuse it, or use it because you don’t want
to claim your own ideas.
 Examples #1:
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Incorrect: In the novel In the Time of the Butterflies,
a poly-vocal narrative is used so the world view of
each Maribal sister is illustrated.
 Correct: In her novel In the Time of the Butterflies,
Julia Alvarez utilizes a poly-vocal narrative which
illustrates the worldview of each Maribal sister.
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USE LITERARY PRESENT
Note: Treat the book as your present time.
ANYTHING that happens in the book-including
what the author writes, scrutinizes, dissects, etc.is discussed in the present tense.
 This means that anything that the book treats as
in the past--what happened before the present
time of the book is discussed in past tense.
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ALSO REMEMBER…
The UWC is always here to help you!
 678-839-6513
 [email protected]
 TLC 1201 (First floor, past the snacks)
 www.westga.edu/writing
 Like us on Facebook: University Writing Center
(UWG)
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