ENGL 112: Strategies in University Writing
February 15, 2013
FEB 25: 2 Pages of draft
1st page revised, and new second page
FEB 27: Prep for the third in class
Definition (AW 135-147)
Definition brings important concepts 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 not
researchers. For readers already familiar with those terms, definition confirms common ground.
Apposition, in an instrument of definition: it is directly attached to an abstraction and use other
words to define it. Take the following summary:
Chavez's work on undocumented immigrants offer new perspectives on transnational
communities: communities whose 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
potential skeptical discourse community.
Here, the apposition sharpens up the very abstract concept of "social accomplishment" to the
relation between an academic writer and his/her audience (AW 135-140)
Definition usually takes the form of a core statement of 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 the apposition forces a particular grammatical structure on the writing: the subject of
the verb tends 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 of an action. For example, "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 verb of the sentence is turned into an
abstract noun: nominalization. In a similar fashion, one might turn the concrete report "Fred
burnt down his high-school last night" into the abstraction "Vandalism": once again, the concrete ENGL 112: Strategies in University Writing
specifics, "Fred" and "his school," disappear and are converted into an abstract noun,
Formal and Sustained Definitions
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
therefore ideal in focus.
Day care 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 appositional 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 services would be healthcare, corrections, education etc.)
The definition of "daycare" then goes on to refocus the reader's attention on the concept by
identifying the features of "daycare" that differentiate it from the