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I Say - Chapter One

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Jason Van Swol

on 24 October 2018

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Transcript of I Say - Chapter One

"To keep an audience engaged, a writer needs to explain what he or she is responding to..."
What did They Say?
They Say, I Say
- Chapter One

"...as soon as possible you state your own position and the one it's responding to briefly, at the start of your text..."
One strategy...
"Most people who bother with the matter at all would admit that the English language is in a bad way, but it is generally assumed that we cannot by conscious action do anything about it. Our civilization is decadent and our language--so the argument runs--must inevitably share in the general collapse....
"I'm a reader!" announced the yellow button. "How about you?" I looked at its bearer, a strapping young guy stalking my town's Festival of Book. "I'll bet you're a reader," he volunteered, as though we were two geniususes well met. "No," I replied. "Absolutely not," I wanted to yell, and fling my Barnes & Noble bag at his feet. Instead, I mumbled something apologetic and melted into the crowd.

There's a new piety in the air: the self congratulation of book lovers.
Ways to introduce what "They Say."
Templates
Americans have always believed that [statement].
Introducing Standard Views
Sometimes what "they say" is a view you agree with.
Introducing a View You Hold
Sometimes, what "they say" is not stated directly but implied or assumed.
Introducing an Assumption
Writing must:
present a thesis
provide context for that thesis
While providing your thesis, you should present the arguments you are:
supporting,
opposing,
amending,
complicating,
qualifying
George Orwell, "Politics and the English Language"
Christina Nehring, "Books Make You a Boring Person"
A number of [types of writers] have recently suggested that [claims].
It has become common today to dismiss [topic].
In their recent work, [specific writers] have offered harsh critiques of [topic] for [reasons].
Conventional wisdom has it that [statement].
Common sense seems to dictate that [statement].
It is often said that [statement].
Many people assume that [statement].
These templates provide an efficient way to challenge a widely held belief--introducing it to be examined or analyzed.
I've always believed that [claim].

Although I should know better by now, I cannot help thinking that [claim].

At the same time that I believe [claim], I also believe [counterclaim].
Although [the writer] does not say directly, she apparently assumes that [claim].

While they rarely admit as much, [writers] often take for granted that [claim].
Presenting multiple views to introduce a topic.
Introducing an Ongoing Debate
In discussions of [topic], one controversial issue has been [issue]. On the one hand, [writer] argues [claim]. On the other hand, [writer] contends [claim]. Others even maintain [claim]. My own view is [claim].
Theories of how the mind/brain works have been dominated for centuries by two opposing views. One, rationalism, sees the human mind as coming into this world more or less fully formed--preprogramed, in modern terms. The other, empiricism, sees the mind of the newborn as largely unstructured, a blank slate.
Mark Aronoff, "Washington Sleeped Here"
When it comes to the topic of [subject], most of us will readily agree that [claim]. Where this agreement usually ends, however, is on the question of [claim]. Whereas some are convinced that [claim], others maintain that [claim].
That we are a nation divided is an almost universal lament of this bitter election year. However, the exact property that divides us--elemental though it is said to be--remains a matter of some controversy.
Thomas Frank, "American Psyche"
a. Our experiments suggest that there are dangerous levels of chemical X in the Ohio groundwater.
b. Material forces drive history.
c. Proponents of Freudian psychology question standard notions of "rationality."
d. Male students often dominate class discussions.
e. The film is about the problems of romantic relationships.
f. I'm afraid that templates like the ones in this book will stifle my creativity.
Statements without Context
If ever there were a newspaper headline custom-made for Jay Leno's monologue, this was it. Kids taking on McDonald's this week, suing the company for making them fat. Isn't that like middle-aged men suing Porsche for making them get speeding tickets? Whatever happened to personal responsibility?

I tend to sympathize with these portly fast-food patrons, though. Maybe that's because I used to be one of them.
David Zinczenko's, "Don't Blame the Eater"
If ever there was an idea custom-made for a Jay Leno monologue, this was it: [topic]. Isn't that like [comparison]? Whatever happened to [topic]?

I happen to sympathize with [subject], though, perhaps because [claim].
Homework
Read
They Say, I Say
chapter two, pages 30-41.
Complete exercises 1 and 2 on pages 40-41.
[But] the process is reversible. Modern English is full of bad habits...which can be avoided if one is willing to take the necessary trouble."
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