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Transitions

English 100 (Lucia and Garry Engkent: Essay Do's and Don'ts)
by

Scott J. Wilson

on 22 March 2016

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Scott J. Wilson English 100

Two Ways At Once
Meaning: The Writer's Responsibility
i) Transitional Terms
and Phrases
Be sure to gesture backwards and forwards in your paper.

Sentences should not all start new thoughts; often, a look back or a gentle reminder is helpful for getting your message across.

Good interpretive-analysis essays are not a “piling up of information.” Instead, they are a “sustained argument.”
Readers should not have to re-read sections or even sentences to comprehend how ideas or evidence relate.

You can create these logical bridges by:
Using transitional terms (and phrases)
Using pointing words
Repeating key words and phrases
For the best result,
place transitions at the beginning of the sentence.

Transitions should note if you are continuing with the same idea. Ask yourself if the next sentence:
Not Just for Your Reader
Transitions
Echoes a previous sentence or paragraph:
“in other words.”

Adds something:
“in addition”

Offers an example or evidence:
“for example”

Generalizes or Concludes:
“as a result”

Modifies:
“and yet”
Transitional Terms and Phrases:
Common Categories
Addition:
also, and, besides, first, furthermore, in addition, indeed, in fact, moreover, second, so too

Example
:
after all, as an illustration, for example, for instance, specifically, in particular, mainly

Elaboration, Emphasis or Clarity:
actually, by extension, in fact, indeed, in other words, that is, to put it another way.
Transitional Terms and Phrases:
Common Categories
Comparison:
along the same lines, in the same way, likewise, similarly

Contrast:
although, but, conversely, even though, however, in contrast, nevertheless, nonetheless, on the contrary, on the other hand, regardless, whereas, while, yet
Transitional Terms and Phrases:
Common Categories
Cause and Effect:
accordingly, as a result, because, consequently, hence, in effect, since, so, then, therefore, thus.

Concession:
admittedly, although that is true, granted, of course, to be sure

Conclusion or Summary:
as a result, consequently, hence, in conclusion, in short, in sum, therefore, this, to sum up, to summarize, ultimately
Transitions not only act as a guide, but they
force you as a writer to think about your argument.

“therefore”
commits you to making a claim or conclusion.

“for example”
requires you to follow with evidence (and tells your reader that’s what the passage is).

"moreover"
makes you add more information.

"of course"
means you'll concede a point or elaborate.
ii) Pointing Words
Help direct your reader through your paper safely.

Often, these words
point backwards
to previous points to help clarify logic.

The most common pointing words:
this, these, that, those, their, such, her, his, it, their.

You can also use terms like:
the above-mentioned, previously stated, etc.
The most common error is using pointing words to
gesture towards an object or idea that has not been clearly defined.
Be Careful:
This happens when, in your mind, it is clear what
logical bridge
you are building, but your readers lack important information.
For example, in terms of broken logical bridges, consider the use of
“this”
in the following passage:

Scott was conflicted about his fantasy football team; on the one hand,
he was cursed at quarterback
. At the same time,
he was happy with his depth a running back
.

This
is seen in his statement that…

Here, we aren’t sure if
“this”
refers to my
curse at QB,
the depth at running back
,
or a combination of both. It's not clear what part makes me so conflicted.
Fix such ambiguity by
naming (specifying) the object
the pointer is referring to at the same time you are pointing to it.

Replace the vague “
this”
with a more precise phrase.

“this curse at quarterback”

“this running back depth”
iii) Repeating Key Words/Phrases
Creates continuity and momentum.

When you mention X,Y,Z in your outline and introduction as the key areas you will use to make your point, be sure the
language you use to describe those terms is consistent.

You may use more than one phrasing, but keep the idea’s integrity.
A good strategy is to make a list of key terms and phrases, including their synonyms and antonyms.

In
They Say/I Say
, Graff gives the example of Susan Douglas who, in
Where the Girls Are: Growing Up Female with the Mass Media,
is able to effectively use
synonyms and antonyms
to show her logic and strengthen her argument.
Keep Track of Keywords
“In a variety of ways, the mass media helped make us the critical
schizophrenics
we are today, women who
rebel against
yet
submit
to prevailing images about what a desirable, worthwhile woman should be…The mass media has engendered in many women a kind of cultural
identity crisis
. We are
ambivalent
toward femininity on the one hand and feminism on the other. Pulled in opposite direction—
told we were equal
, yet
told we were subordinate
; told we could
change history
but told we were
trapped by history
—we got
the bends
at an early age, and we’ve never gotten rid of them.

When I open Vogue, I am simultaneously
infuriated
and
seduced
…I
adore
the materialism; I
despise
the materialism…I want to look beautiful, I think wanting to look beautiful is the most dumb-ass goal you could have…And this doesn’t only happen when I’m reading Vogue; it happens all the time…On the one hand, on the other hand—that’s not just me—that’s what it mean to be a woman in America” (115).
Here, Douglas is able to establish her argument that mass media creates a type of
mental disorder
by using synonyms that express the same meaning.

Schizophrenia, identity crisis, ambivalent, the bends


She even demonstrates it through contrasting words:

rebel against/submit

told we were equal/told we were subordinate

told we could change history/told we were trapped

infuriated/seduced

adore /despise
While repetition in your paper can be a difficult balancing act, it is necessary to help move through your text safely (and convincingly).

Some writers use the metaphor of
rock climbing
as a means to express the importance of connecting your logical parts.
“Instead of jumping or lurching from one hand-hold to the next, good climbers have a secure handhold on the position they have established before reaching for the next ledge...
To move smoothly from point to point in your argument
,
you need to firmly ground what you say in what you’ve already said
. In this way, your writing remains
focused while simultaneously moving forwards
” (Graff and Birkenstein)
Questions?
See page 31-32 in Essay Do's and Don'ts
See page 31-32 in Essay Do's and Don'ts
See page 31-32 in Essay Do's and Don'ts
Pointing words are articles, pronouns and nouns that refer back to other words.

As the Engkents point out in
Essay Do's and Don'ts
, "the definite article (the) shows that something has already been mentioned" (32)

"The design team came up with
a
new proposal.
The
proposal gave everyone a new perspective on the project, revitalizing the whole staff"
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