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ENGL - 112 - Definition.docx

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University of British Columbia
ENGL 112

ENGL - 112 - Definition (AW 135-147) Definition bring important terms into focus. It helps a writer address readers who may not be familiar with key research-related terms used by other academic writers and researchers. For readers already familiar with those terms, definition confirms COMMON GROUND (opposite of presupposition, tell the reader what you're talking about, shares an idea with the reader) APPOSITION is an instrument of definition: it is directly attached to an abstraction and uses other words to define it. Take the following summary: Chavez's work on undocumented immigrants offers new perspectives on TRANSNATIONAL COMMUNITIES; COMMUNITIES WHOES MEMBERS LEAVE THEIR HOMES AND SETTLE IN ANOTHER COUNTRY WHILE MAINTAINING IMPORTANT CONNECTIONS WITH THEIR ORIGINAL HOMES. Here, the writer recognizes the reader may not be familiar with the abstraction/concept "transnational communities." and takes steps to address him/her. The use of apposition can also help a writer to define his or her position by sharpening the application of an abstraction: Academic knowledge is now generally recognized to be a SOCIAL ACCOMPLISHMENT. THE OUTCOME OF A CULTURAL ACTIVITY SHAPED BY IDEOLOGY AND CONSTITUTED BY AGREEMENT BETWEEN A WRITER AND A POTENTIALLY SKEPTICAL DISCOURSE COMMUNITY. Here, the apposition narrows down the very abstract concept of "social accomplishment' to the relation between an academic writer and his/her audience (for other examples, see AW 135-140) Definition usually takes the form of a core statement or equivalence, which basically translates into the formula "X=Y". The core statement often, but not always, uses the verb "to be": Salutations are verbal and physical gestures... Cybernetics, or the science of maintaining order in a system... Note that apposition forces a particular grammatical structure on the writing: the subject of the verb tend to be short and the complement much longer. The subjects in the above sentences are also abstract nouns, which tend to IMMOBILIZE EVENTS OR THE PERFORMANCE OR AN ACTIONS. For examples, "Billy bullies Mary" is a concrete situation; however, in the abstraction "Bullying," both concrete individuals - Billy and Mary- disappear (a grammatical phenomenon known as AGENTLESSNESS) AND THE VERY OF THE SENTENCE IS TURNED INTO AN ABSTRACT NOUN: NOMINALIZATION. Concrete ideas (Billy and Mary) disappear. In a similar fashion, one might turn the concrete report "Fred burnt down his high-school last night" into the abstraction "Vandalism"L once again, the concrete specifics, "Fred" and "his school" disappear and are converted into an abstract noun, "vandalism." . Formal and Sustained Definitions (AW 142-148) FORMAL DEFINITION is a style of definition that focuses closely on a concept and isolates it for scrutiny by separating it from accidents, mix-ups, fuzziness and real life. Formal definition is there fore IDEAL in focus. Daycare is the institutional provision of care-taking services to young children, these services including feeding, supervision, shelter, and instruction. In this example, the concept "Daycare" is defined by the apposition phrase (beginning with "is the...") The apposition enlarges the reader's view of the concept by identifying the larger class of activity to which "daycare" belongs "the institutional provision of care-taking services" (other such services would be healthcare, corrections, education etc.) 1. connects the concept being defined to the broader class which is a part of. 2. And then goes on the specifics what makes that idea unique (separation
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