Chapter 11 WRITING AS A SKILL

  • Writing is a skill like swimming or driving. 
  • Constant practice and interest in these skills can make a person good at it.
  • Writing is different from these skills.
  • It is the physical manifestation of language and is an intellectual skill.
  • All languages serve as tools to express our thoughts, feelings, ideas and beliefs.
  • So more effort and dedication are needed to master the art of writing.
  • Writing requires patience and perseverance.

FUNCTIONAL USE OF WRITING

  • Writings > four major categories
  • PERSONAL WRITING > what we write to our friends, family, et al.
  • Expresses our thoughts & emotions.
  • Suffused with emotions.
  • Subjective ideas.
  • Personal choice of words & expressions.
  • It is warm & subjective.
  • CREATIVE WRITING > expresses deep thoughts and imaginative perceptions.
  • Emotions & thoughts play a pivotal role.
  • Is imaginative & poetic.
  • Intense in its appeal & impact.
  • Literary style = enriched by figures of speech.
  • So it is delightful as well as instructive.
  • At times the style is complex and abstract.
  • BUSINESS WRITING > a clear, precise and direct form of expression.
  • Emerges from the requisites in a person’s professional life.
  • The focus is on facts and data.
  • So comprises factual descriptions & analyses.
  • More specific in purpose, objective in tone & formal in expression.
  • Direct and concrete words.
  • Unambiguous sentences which are to the point
  • ACADEMIC WRITING > scholarly & research based.
  • Elaborate prose style.
  • Lengthy paragraphs based on wider thoughts and studies.
  • Makes use of multiple cross-references and citations.
  • Conveys the idea through domain based terminology.

CONDENSATION & ITS FORMS

  • In certain situations — discussions, writing assignments & project reports — we have to be brief, clear and precise.
  • Five forms of condensation
  •  PRECIS — the most common form to be read and written both by a student & a professional.
  • Is a short and concise account of some text.
  • Purpose – briefly restate the central idea and the important points (none of the details) of the original text.
  • Must observe — the principles of clarity, coherence, completeness, conciseness, & exactness

PRECIS – WORKING PRINCIPLES

  • Be brief and precise > a precis must be concise, precise and focused.
  • Normal length — 1/3 of the original text.
  • Be complete > a precis must be as complete and comprehensive as the original text but in a few words.
  • All the important points must be incorporated.
  • Be choosy > only the indispensable part of the original text must be chosen for the precis.
  • Discard examples, illustrations, quotations, and similar superfluous material included in the original text.
  • Be original > express the author’s view in your own words without distorting/modifying it.
  • Neither add your ideas nor omit any important idea of the author.
  • Be coherent > a good precis must give the author’s ideas in a compact, complete and coherent way.
  • Be clear > clarity of expression should not be lost in the zeal to condense the text

SEVEN-STEP LADDER

  • Be original > express the author’s view in your own words without distorting/modifying it. Neither add your ideas nor omit any important idea of the author.
  • Be coherent > a good precis must give the author’s ideas in a compact, complete and coherent way.
  • Be clear > clarity of expression should not be lost in the zeal to condense the text
  • Review & compare > compare your version with the original; count the no of words.
  • Edit & revise > incorporate all the alterations, modifications you made in the first draft & shape the final version of the precis.

A SAMPLE PRECIS

Passage

How you can best improve your English depends on where you live and particularly on whether or not you live in an English speaking community. If you hear English spoken every day and mix freely with English speaking people, that is on the whole an advantage. On the other hand, it is often confusing to have the whole language, poured over you at once. Ideally, a step-by-step course should accompany or lead up to this experience. It will also help a great deal if you can easily get the sort of English books in which you are interested.

To read a lot is essential. It is stupid not to venture outside the examination ‘set-books’ or the text books you have chosen for intensive study. Read as many books in English as you can, not as a duty but for pleasure. Do not choose the most difficult books you find, with the idea of listing and learning as many new words as possible; choose what is likely to interest you and be sure in advance that it is not too hard. You should not have to be constantly looking up new words in the dictionary, for that deadens interest and checks real learning. Look up a word here and there, but as a general policy, try to push ahead, guessing what would mean from the context.

It is extensive and not intensive reading that normally helps you to get interested in extra-reading and thereby improve your English. You should enjoy the feeling which extensive reading gives of having some command of the language. As you read, you will become more and more familiar with words and sentence patterns you already know, understanding them better and better as you meet them in more and more contexts, some of which may differ only slightly from others.

POINTS

  • People living in an English speaking community learn English faster.
  • They are in touch with people who speak English fluently and every day.
  • Reading English books is essential for learning English.
  • We should read books meant for concentrated study & also those that give us pleasure.
  • Read books that you like and are simple.
  • Reading must be for enjoyment & not for increasing your vocabulary.
  • Reading familiarizes us with the structure & vocabulary of the language.

Title — Learning English

Living in an English speaking community helps to improve one’s English. However, a gradual introduction to the various aspects of the language is a better way of learning. This is possible through books prepared for this purpose, which require concentrated reading. Reading books is essential for learning English. One should read not only text books but also books for pleasure. These should be in simple language and of one’s own choice. This reading would be for enjoyment, and not merely for increasing one’s stock of words. This kind of reading would familiarize the reader with the usages and grammatical aspects of the language.

  • SUMMARY – often included in formal reports
  • Gives in brief the findings of a study, a journalistic article or a geographical survey.
  • Avoids examples & illustrations.
  • Emphasizes the main arguments & conclusions of the original work.
  • Follows the sequence of the ideas as expressed in the original & detailed work.
  • ABSTRACT — often preferred to a summary in specialized forms of communication.
  • Often published along with a research article in journals & magazines.
  • Highlights the purpose, scope & significance of a work.
  • SYNOPSIS — a condensed & shortened version of an article/research paper/a chapter of a book/a report/a book itself.
  • Highlights in brief all the essential features of the original document.
  • Is required when researchers have to submit research proposals/dissertations/theses to universities.
  • The researcher has to highlight the purpose, scope & significance of the research in it.
  • It includes a reference to the methods adopted for data collection.
  • It also provides the general plan of the entire work & tries to establish its importance in the relevant field.
  • PARAPHRASING — reproducing the author’s ideas in your own words.
  • The author’s words can be used.
  • Paraphrasing of write-ups conveys in simple terms an idea which appears to be too ambiguous/philosophical/poetic to follow.
  • A paraphrased text of a classic brings the text written in different languages & times to readers who can follow only a simpler version of it.
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