Showing posts with label argument. Show all posts
Showing posts with label argument. Show all posts

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Creating a Map of Connection and Transition

Students create their own maps of connection

"The creative journey has more departures than arrivals."


Students often have problems thinking about the flow of their ideas within a paragraph. This is not surprising as different thought-pathways occur at each (full) stop. 

For instance, having expressed one idea, the next one might illustrate, supplement, qualify, or reverse the preceding sentence. 

As a result, our sentence journeys quickly become very complicated. A complex argument often degenerates into confusion, and the sense of feeling lost. Writers and readers need signposts, and they need a map.

In reality, writing involves weaving together a complex and dense thread of connectives and transitions. These words have the special function of signalling the direction of travel. They help to maintain a sense of purpose and direction. By using them effectively the writer is able to stick to a plan. Transitions help writing to flow.

By thinking about the different kinds of transition needed in writing it is possible to create word and phrase clusters for each one. 

In visual terms each cluster can become a line that has many variations: 

the Location Line, 
the Timing Line, 
the Comparison Line, 
the Contrast and Difference Line, 
the Supplement Line, 
the Disputation line, 
the Sequence Line, 
the Example and Illustration Line,
the Summary Line. 

My book provides lists of these word clusters, together with hundreds of examples of their usage drawn from published writers in all fields of work.

I have also provided a useful summary of the most frequently used transition words and phrases at the end of this blog.

It is easy to create your own multiple-line personalised maps:

Pairs of students research and select the key words that will stand in as the stations. 

They draw coloured lines with sufficient stations and then add the words to create their personalised map of connection.  

They will be learning about connection by making links.

A traditional - and easy - way to create a London Tube-style connection map is to use coloured wool and drawing pins on a noticeboard. Each station then becomes one of the key words or phrases used to signal a sentence connection or transition. The cluster then represents the colour of the line.

Lines of writing can also be demonstrated in the classroom by using human subjects as the 'stations' and throwing around a ball of coloured wool. But be warned, this activity can create a tangled web. Yet this experience usefully serves an apt metaphor to express the idea that complex writing sometimes works - and sometimes fails. Sentences are social; they require teamwork.

A useful follow-up game is to guess the line:

"If am at station X and move to station Y, which line am I on?"

Logic line clusters can also be used to analyse an essay. This involves highlighting the writer's choice (or implied choice) of connection and transition, sentence by sentence. In this process we stick back in and stress the otherwise invisible moments of connection and transition.

Clearly, a high frequency of time-based words suggests narrative; a high frequency of space-based words will be evident in description; multiple sequence words are crucial for argument, &c.

I also like to use the idea of the electronic circuit board. We are not always using all of the elements on the board. Nonetheless, a broken circuit will sometime lead to a fatal system error.

I'd love to see your connectivity maps if your have tried out this activity! 

Images for Connectivity on Pinterest


The Nine Lines of Connection:

The Space Line

A sense of where something is in relation to something else. This use is rather like using a preposition or an adverbial phrase. The words associated with this usage are: above, across, adjacent, adjacent to, alongside, amid, among, around, at the side, before, behind, below, beneath, beside,  between, beyond, down, from, further, here, here and there, in front of, in the back, in the background, in the centre of, in the distance, in the foreground, in the front, in the middle, near, nearby, next, on this side, opposite to, over, there, to the left, to the right, to the side, under, up, where, wherever. These words all suggest a sense of place or location and are therefore very useful for visual description.

The Timing Line

Supply a sense of when something is happening, or to communicate the sense of a logical sequence in time. Examples of this usage of transitional words and phrases: about, after, afterwards, all of a sudden, as soon as, at the present time, at the same time, at this instant, before, currently, during, eventually, finally, first, formerly, forthwith, fourth, from time to time, further, hence, henceforth, immediately, in a moment, in due time, in the first place, in the future, in the meantime, in the past, in time, instantly, last, later, meanwhile, next, now, occasionally, often, once, presently, prior to, quickly, second, shortly, since, sometimes, soon, sooner or later, straightaway, subsequently, suddenly, then, third, to begin with, today, until, until now, up to the present time, when, whenever, without delay.

The Comparison Line

Point to a comparison of two ideas. This may be achieved by deploying words such as additionally, again, also, and, as, as a matter of fact, as well as, by the same token, comparatively, correspondingly, coupled with, equally, equally important; first, second, third, fourth, fifth; furthermore, identically, in addition, in like manner, in the light of, in the same fashion, in the same way, like, likewise, moreover, not only ... but also, not to mention, of course, similarly, to say nothing of, together with, too. As these examples demonstrate the ruling idea is similarity.
Tube map of the Art of Connection with key words presented as stations
Another Map showing The Art of Connection

The Difference Line

Indicate a contrast. English provides many examples to signal the notion of difference. The most common examples are and still, and yet, above all, after all, albeit, although, although this may be true, at the same time, be that as it may, besides, but, conversely, despite, different from, even so, even though, however, in contrast, in reality, in spite of, instead, nevertheless, nonetheless, notwithstanding, on the contrary, on the other hand, or, otherwise, rather, regardless of, still, then again, unlike, whereas, while, yet.

The Supplement Line

If the writer wants to present additional or supplementary ideas the most common options are: also, and, as well, moreover, then, too, besides, equally, furthermore, in addition.

The Argument Line

In the process of disputation, argument, or debate a writer sometimes indicates that a point has been agreed or already taken into account. In order to suggest that a point has been conceded the following words and phrases may be used: granted, obviously, to be sure, agreed, certainly, of course.

The Sequence Line

In order to provide a sense of logical sequence the writer uses words such as accordingly, as long as, as a result, because, because of, consequently, due to, even if, for fear that, for this reason, for the purpose of, forthwith, given that, granted (that), hence, henceforth, if, in case, in order to, in that case, in the event that, in the hope that, in view of, inasmuch as, lest, on account of, on (the) condition (that), only, owing to, provided that, seeing that, since, so,  so as to, so long as, so that, thereby, therefore, thereupon, thus, to the end that, under those circumstances, unless, when, whenever, while, with this in mind, with this intention. In these examples there may be a sense of cause and effect, or the sense that one idea results from another. In some cases there is the sense of conditionality or a specific relation of purpose.

The Illustration Line

If the writer has been using concepts, ideas, or theories, it is often helpful to provide an illustration or an example. For this purpose we deploy words such as: another key point, as an illustration, by all means, certainly, chiefly, especially, first thing to remember, for example, for instance, for one thing, for this reason, frequently, important to realize, in detail, in fact, in general, in other words, in particular, in this case, including, indeed, like, issues to consider, markedly, most compelling evidence, must be remembered, namely, notably, on the negative side, on the positive, point often overlooked, recalling, significantly, specifically, such as, surely, surprisingly, that is to say, taking into account, to be sure, to clarify, to demonstrate, to emphasize, to enumerate, to explain, to point out, to put it another way, to put it differently, to repeat, truly, with attention to, with regard to, with this in mind.

The Summary Line

Useful connective words include: after all, all in all, all things considered, altogether, as can be seen, as has been demonstrated, as has been noted, as shown,  above, by and large, finally, for the most part, generally speaking, given these points, hence, in a word, in any event, in brief, in conclusion, in conclusion, in either case, in essence, in fact, in short, in summary, in the final analysis, in the long run, on balance, on the whole, ordinarily, overall, that is to say, that is, to sum up, to summarize, usually.

It will be clear that many transitional words have multiple and overlapping functions. The summary, for instance, also signals the end of a sequence. Similarly, examples may also be supplements, because they provide additional illustrations or instances.

Download a sample of this book.

The Art of Connection.

Illustration of connectives and transition words used in English composition
This was produced by a boy of  10 years

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Use of Connectives and Transitions in Composition

Connected Brain Zones

§ 371. IV. The use of connectives. The words of connection and transition between clauses, members, and sentences, may be made, according to the skill or the awkwardness of the writer, sources of strength or of weakness.

It is always a source of weakness for two prepositions, having different antecedents, to be co-ordinated in connection with a common subsequent.

This mode of expression has been called "the splitting of particles;" a name not very applicable to it as it occurs in English construction. The proper name for it is the one implied in the italicized words above. The following is an example.

"Though personally unknown to, I have always been an admirer of, Mr. Calhoun."

The way to correct it is to complete the first clause, and let the last, if either, be elliptic; thus:

"Though personally unknown to Mr. Calhoun, I have always admired him," or "been an admirer of him."

It is proper to remark that the very construction here condemned, enjoys a kind of toleration in legal and formal documents. The object in such compositions is not strength but clearness. Perhaps a good deal may be conceded to the usages of a profession proverbial for its attachment to what is old and of long standing; but in all compositions that have any pretension to literary merit, this construction must be disallowed.

§ 372. The most enfeebling of all practices in writing is the constant repetition of the conjunction and, whether as a contextual or a member-joining particle. It is a fault into which young persons are peculiarly apt to fall. Sometimes in writing a narrative, when their minds are eagerly carrying on the thread of the story, they will indite a series of sentences, each commencing with the formula "and then," or "and so;" altogether unaware of the slovenly manner in which they are using language. To avoid this, let the pupil avail himself of all the expedients in his power for varying the expression, and avoid the necessity of using this one conjunction so often.

§ 373. With regard to the use of co-ordinating conjunctions in a series of terms or short clauses, there are two different figures of syntax, directly the opposite of each other, each of which may be so used as to contribute to Strength. They are called Asyndeton and Polysyndeton. In the one, the connecting conjunction is entirely omitted from a series of co-ordinates; in the other it is carefully repeated, either before every member of the series, or else between each pair. In the former, the object is to present a succession of spirited images; in the latter, the writer desires to make the mind of the reader dwell upon each successive thought, not passing from it until its full force is felt. But they both possess what is called tho cumulative power; heaping up before the mind a combination of thoughts that are intended powerfully to affect it. Witness the following examples, in which these figures are combined with the balanced construction, showing that St. Paul evidently delighted in such rhetorical devices.

"There is one body and one spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in you all." (Observe how the asyndeton and the polysyndeton are combined in the foregoing extract.)

"Charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things."

"It is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption: it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power: it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body."

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?”

"For all things are yours; whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas; or the world or life or death; or things present, or things to come;—all are yours, and ye are Christ's, and Christ is God's."

§ 374. No single feature of style more plainly marks the mature mind, conversant with literature, than the judicious use of contextual connectives. These include Sot merely the conjunctions, but all those adverbs and adverbial phrases that indicate the relation of the sentences which they severally introduce, to the preceding context. All of them, including the conjunctions, have been subjected to a searching classification, which, however, is of no great practical value. To base upon such a classification a system of rules, would be to invest with difficulty a matter which would be more economically learned from extensive and varied reading.

SOURCE: John Mitchell Bonnell, A Manual of the Art of Prose Composition: For the Use of Colleges and Schools (1867).

Dr Ian McCormick is the author of The Art of Connection: the Social Life of Sentences
(Quibble Academic, 2013)

Bonnell's list of topics for debate in class (1867)

In A Manual of the Art of Prose Composition: For the Use of Colleges and Schools (1867), John Mitchell Bonnell explained the value of Extemporaneous Composition;  Debating by the Class; and proposed a list of topics for debate. This is an extract from his book.

The following list presents a few of the questions that afford good fields for debate.

Does wealth exert more influence than intelligence?

Should a criminal be capitally condemned on circumstantial evidence?

Are banks more beneficial than injurious?

Ought military schools to be encouraged?

Should colleges be endowed?

Did the French revolution advance the cause of liberty in Europe?

Is there any real danger of the over-population of the globe?

Is country life more favourable to the cultivation of virtue than life in a city?

Is history a more useful study than biography?

Is ambition more destructive of personal happiness than avarice?

Is it the duty of good men to discountenance the theatre?

Is the Bible more essential to the spread of Christianity than the living ministry?

Does poetry demand a higher order of genius than oratory?

Does military life tend to qualify men to become good civil governors?

Has Mohammedanism produced more evil than good?

Is it ever right to deceive a rational man?

Should the chief end of civil punishment be the reformation of criminals, or the prevention of crime?

Ought the state to provide for the free education of all children within its borders?

Is it expedient to form colonies of convicts?

Would a congress of nations be practical or beneficial?

Was the field of eloquence in ancient Greece or Rome superior to that in our own country?

Are novels more injurious than beneficial?

Is it expedient to unite manual with mental labour in an educational establishment?

Which exerts the greater influence on society, the teacher or the preacher?

Which controls public opinion more extensively, the ministry or the newspaper press?

Does a natural proclivity to crime diminish the guilt of the act?

Should a member of the American House of Representatives be bound by the will of his constituents?

Do savage nations possess an exclusive right to the soil?

Should the right of suffrage be co-extensive with resident manhood?

Is a lawyer justifiable in defending a cause that he believes to be bad?

Ought the Protective Policy or the Free Trade principles to prevail?

Ought gambling to be suppressed by law?

Which is the better for the development of good character, poverty or riches?

Ought the liberty of the press to be restricted?

Ought imprisonment for debt to be abolished?

Should corporal punishment be allowed in schools?

Ought religious institutions to be supported by law?

Should infidel publications be suppressed by law?

Should atheists be eligible to office?

Has government a right to suppress Mormon or Mohammedan polygamy?

Are all mankind descended from one pair?

Is man responsible for his belief?

Can any of the moral attributes of God be proved from the light of nature?

Is a scholastic education preferable to a private one?

Are the principles of the Peace society practicable?

Should the course of study in college be the same for all pupils?

Are monastic orders favourable to the cultivation of true piety?

Are inequalities of rank in society favourable to social progress?

Was the influence of Jefferson upon his age and country beneficial?

Was Bonaparte greater in the field than in the cabinet?

Have the United States the right to forbid European interference with other American governments?

Does morality keep pace with civilization?

Which has done the greater service to the cause of truth, philosophy or poetry?

Is the cultivation of the Fine Arts conducive to virtue?

Has sectarianism done more to advance or retard the interests of Christianity?

Is a "little learning" more dangerous than ignorance?

Further Reading

On Extemporaneous Composition and Debating by the Class... here.

Dr Ian McCormick is the author of The Art of Connection: the Social Life of Sentences
(Quibble Academic, 2013)