CMN 432, First Session
Language is a terrible medium for converting ideas.
Communication happens while source and receiver make meaning together, and
this happens when source and receiver are in contact.
Communication should be subjective, not objective.
To whom does language belong? To everyone since it’s already laid with meaning.
First Model of communication: Transmission model
source encode Channel/message decode receiver
Source’s role in this model: Transmitting meaning
The question concerned with this model: “Did you get it?”
First major problem of this model: words
Second major problem: There is no context
Third major problem: arrows are unidirectional
2ndModel of Communication: Constitutive Model
A bunch of arrows going back and forth.
Source’s role in this model: making meaning, NOT transmitting meaning.
“Constant Reconciliation of self and other”
CMN 432, 2 Session Objective of university: creating more new knowledge
Bachelors: Fundamental things about a body of knowledge
Masters: Mastering those fundamental concepts
PhD: producing new knowledge
“Episteme versus Techne”
Difference: episteme is to know “abstract scientific theories”. The question
concerned with Episteme is “Did you get it?”, therefore episteme is related to
Techne is to know “how”. This concept has close tie with constitutive model since
it’s looking for the effect we have.
Communication which involves techne is called “Technocratic model”
Some writing hints:
1- Remember that active agent in a sentence must not be a piece of
technology, for example:
“Computers are changing the way we live.” This Sentence needs revision
2- Better to know who your audience is.
“Identifying your audience in a technical document through their level of expertise”
- To see if your technical writing is plausible or not
- To critic - To verify the credibility of your work (evaluation)
- To use your knowledge in order to advance their own knowledge
What should we include in our writing for this type of audience?
All technical specifications, references, charts, graphs, tables
Technicians are basically task oriented, to put it in other words, they are in
Techne path. We lay out some sort of instructions for Technicians.
So the goal of writing for these people is to provide a layout instructions so
that they “safely” accomplish a task.
They are decision makers, and they work inevitably involves $$$$$. They are
the ones who supervise projects.
What should we include in our writings to managers?
Recommendations for action, these recommendations should be justified with
an argument. The justification could be either mathematical, using graphs
4- Lay people
This is discussed in third session of the notes. CMN 432, Third Session
So the fourth group of audience is “lay people”
Here are the rules of writing to lay people:
- Lay people do not have great knowledge, so your job is to talk “THEIR”
language and explain what you do in “THEIR” Language.
- Use metaphor
- Use analogy
- Basically enhance their general knowledge
When you have great deal of background information, start with ones which are
“known” and then do through “unknown”
Definition of “word”: Special Kind of symbol or a sign. Words are consisted of 2
parts, Signifier and signified. - Signifier: the letters on the page
- Signified: what the letters represent
The relationship between signifier and signified is arbitrary, or at very least is
cultured. For instance French would call that green thingy at the top “Abre”,
English call it “Tree” and….
The meaning of any word is cultural oriented, for instance the meaning of the word
“adequate” could be different in different cultures.
Definition of Language: A set of relationships, a self contained relationship among
signifiers and signified. “Denotation Versus Connotation”
The difference is explained through an example, let’s say we have the word “Lion”.
Denotation in this case is :
- The literal
- Dictionary definition : a large tawny-coloured cat that lives in prides,
found in Africa and NW India. The male has a flowing shaggy mane and
takes little part in hunting, which is done cooperatively by the females
Connotation of the word “Lion” could be
- King of the Jungle
Definition of Sentence: Logical relationship between signifiers
Aristotle’s 3 Modes of Proof
- Ethos: Personal proof, which is intrinsic and reveals the credibility of
- Pathos : emotions
- Logos: rational proof, like data Some Writing hints:
1- Put the main verb as close to the front of the sentence as possible, or as
close to the subject
2- Use active voice, avoid using passive voice
3- Keep your verbs jargon free
4- Use adjectives and adverbs sparingly
5- Avoid noun clusters
6- Eliminate cliché
7- Avoid using “There is”, “There are” or “It is” as sentence openers
CMN 432, 4 Session
“Persuasion in Engineering”
1- Pathos: this mode of proof is subjective.
- Putting the audience in the right frame of mind
- Emotional proof
Example of using “Pathos”: The Michelin Tire ad 2- Logos: This mode of proof is objective
- Use of a reason as proof
- Use evidence to support your proposition, for instance using facts,
numbers, data and….
The character of the person making the claim
Situated Ethos: Levels of authority based on a particular case. For instance,
the Iron ring or white lab coat each reveal situated ethos.
Invented Ethos: When the person who is making the claim, makes audience
the source. You basically use invented ethos while trying to convince your
audience through words.
Ethos generally reveals the following:
1- Writer or Speaker’s good will
2- Writer or Speaker’s good sense
3- Writer/ Speaker’s good Character Terministic Screen:
When a set of identifications become codified in a culture and therefore, they act
as a flter.
Theory of Justification
- Concerned with “belief” not “truth” (Truth actually does not exist)
- Worry about audience’s perception/ understanding of what is true/right
How does reasoning work?
- Start with a belief, so called “claim”
- Claims invite a response (the response could be a matter of controversy
- Claims are, by definition, something that not everyone assumes to be
“Stephan Toulmin’s Model of warranting claim” So,
1- Grounds (data)
- Facts or info upon which claim rests
- What you want people to believe
- What allows us to move from the ground to the claim
- Shows the relationship between claim and ground
Here are examples of the “Warranting Claim” Model
- claim : Force=10 N
- Grounds: mass=5 kg and acceleration=2m/s^2
- The warrant in this case would be F=ma
- Claim: Clean diesel engines are better for environment compared to the
- Ground: Clean diesel engines have lower emission and higher mpg - Warrant: Environment must be preserved
- Claim: Marijuana is a gateway drug
- Ground: 50% of Marijuana users also consume cocaine/heroin
- Warrant: Once you try using an illegal stuff, you would try consuming
other illegal stuff as well.
CMN 432, 5 session
Precision and clarity come first while choosing a word, for instance:
Utilize: Instead of using the word “Utilize”, we could use the word “use”
Facilitate: Instead of the word “Facilitate”, we could use “make easier”
Strategize: Instead of using the word “Strategize”, we could use “plan”
What’s the danger of using fancy words? Losing your audience
· Remember not use contractions in formal documents, for instance, do not use
“Wouldn’t”, use “would not” instead. CMN 432, 6 Session
“Process of Invention”
Invention: The process of moving from “known” facts into “new”
- Doing research to find out “known”
- Critical questions that audience may ask is “So what?”, this question could
be answered through context
- You should identify what your audience knows
Process of invention could be implemented in your writing using various formats, 3
of them are written below:
1- …….They say X, I say Y to extend what they say…….
2- ………They say X, I say Y because X is wrong……..
3- ………They say X, which is fine, but Y is better for the following reasons…….. How does the “…..They say….I say……” persuasion work? It builds ethos
For a good “….they say….I say……” persuasion, we need the following:
1- To know how to summarize and quote correctly
2- To plant a naysayer (naysayers are basically hecklers, the ones who do not
agree with your point)
In order to write an effective persuasion, you need to create a problem for your
audience, one that they are not aware of, and then provide them with a solution.
General Structure for technical writing
2- My solution
3- Methodology (how)
4- Justification (Why)
CMN 432, 7 Session
A formal definition of X = The class of X +the distinguishing feature of X
Definition of “Carburetor” = mixer (Class of Carburetor) +particular mixture of air
and fuel (The kind of the mixture is the distinguishing feature of carburetor)
Definition of “poker”= card game (class)+ game of strategy (distinguishing feature)
Note: Avoid using a circular definition
For example: Hard-drive= Drive +…….
In the example above, drive is a WRONG class for hard-drive “Descriptions”
There are 2 types of descriptions:
1- Process description
2- Technical description: Technical descriptions answer these 3 questions:
- How does an apparatus work?
- What does it produce?
- What is it looking like?
Descriptions in general consist of the following:
1- Introduction: In this section, you should go through the functionality of the
object, its purpose and the overall visual of how it looks like
2- Dissecting the object: Going through each of the components separately and
also how those components are related to one another. (Diagrams could be
used for this part)
3- Summary: Overall summary of the previous parts + how the user could use it
Convention for a good set of instruction:
1- The set of instructions should have a very clear and limiting title
2- Visual representation of things that must be done should be provided, such
as drawings, diagrams…
3- Suitable level of technicality: Do not over estimate what people know
4- Chronological numbered steps (Use just one verb for each step)
5- Legal bid: any sort of warning, caution or note should be mentioned.
Difference between warning, caution and note: Note: For example you have bought a set of LEGO star fights and there are 3
different bags of lego in this package. The note written on the package is:
“Do not mix the bags up”
Caution: prevents apparatus malfunction
Warning: prevents human harm
The instructions must be written in imperative voice
1- Abstract delivers the purpose of the report
2- Abstracts reveals the methodology of how you did research
3- Abstract reveals the result of your report
4- Abstract reveals the importance of your work
There are 2 kinds of abstracts:
1- Descriptive: focuses more on the area of research that’s covered,
2- Informative: highlights primary ideas and primary results, tends to
emphasize on conclusion, tends to be longer than descriptive abstract. CMN 432, 8 session
There are 3 kinds of Oral Presentation:
2- Public address: 1 person talking to many
3- Small group “Small group Communication”
- 1 person talking to less than 20 people
- Decision has to be made
- Talks vary due to the relationships of the people of the group and their