Technical writing is replete with technical terms that need to be defined. It is a must to define scientific terms to allow for better comprehension. These difficult words may come In the form of known words used In a differently new sense (as fly-overly new words for already known things (as somnambulist for sleepwalker), and new words for unknown things (as schizophrenia). New words do not necessarily mean newly-coined words; they are new In the sense that they are encountered by the readers for the first time so they have to be defined. When one defines, he gives the meaning of a certain term.
The writer may define a word in any of the three ways: informal (word or phrase) definition, formal (sentence) definition, and amplified (extended or expanded) definition. An Informal deflation comes In the form of a word or a phrase oftentimes called a synonym. For example, word semis Is defined by giving earthquake as an appositive. The word compensation and remuneration can be made simpler by writing pay or the word inundation by mentioning flood. A formal or sentence definition, as its name suggests, Is In the form of a sentence with these three elements: species, genus, and differential/e.
The species is the term defined; the genus Is the class or kind to which the term belongs; the differentiate or differentiate are the distinguishing characteristics that make the term different from other terms of the same class. Examples of formal definitions are provided below. A somnambulist is a person who walks while asleep. A somnambulist Is a person who talks while asleep. A thermometer is an instrument that measures temperature. A barometer is an instrument that measure atmospheric pressure. The species are underlined once; the genera (plural of genus boldfaced; and the differentiate, Italicized.
Note that the species, the genus, and the linking verb are singular In form and that the differentiate is introduced by a relative pronoun (who, that, which, whose, whom, etc. ). The formal definition is described so because it follows the form: species = genus and differentiate (S = G + D). The equal sign can be translated to is or means. The amplified (extended or expanded) definition (see the sample in Appendix G) comes In the form of additional sentences that support a formal definition which becomes the topic sentence of a paragraph with definition as method of ways: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Function – use of the thing defined;
Location – placement/position of the thing defined; Physical description – physical traits (color, size, shape, etc. ) of the thing define; Further definition – definition of words in the formal definition of the thing defined; Causation – causes or effects of the thing defined; Technical Writing in the Discipline inch. Fundamentals of Research Page 1 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. Comparison – similarities of the thing defined with another thing; Contrast – differences of the thing defined from another thing; Exemplification – concrete examples of the thing defined; Etymology/word derivation – words from which the thing defined was derived;
Analysis – parts of the thing defined; Basic principle – law or principle governing the thing defined; and Negation – negative statements about the thing defined. A definer faces several problems. One of these is the placement of the definitions. He can choose from among these alternatives: in the text (most common), in footnotes, in a glossary, and in a special section in the introduction (least common). Another problem is diction or word choice. He has to select the appropriate words to make his meanings clear. For instance, given the following examples, the best definition of a square is the last.
A square is a geometric figure which has four equal sides. A square is a polygon which has four equal sides. A square is a quadrilateral which has equal sides. A square is a quadrilateral which has four equal sides. Which has equal sides. The first three definitions may also apply to a rhombus. The fourth and fifth definitions contain redundancies (quadrilateral and four in the fourth and equilateral and equal in the fifth). The word rectangle is the most appropriate genus because a rectangle is a four-sided polygon with right angles and because what distinguishes a square from other rectangles is its equal sides.
Two other problems encountered by a definer are the repetition of key terms and the use of a single example or instance. It is not good to defined fixed assets by saying that they are assets which are fixed and to defined smooth muscles by saying that they are muscles which are smooth. Likewise, it is bad to defined volcanic eruption this way: “Volcanic eruption is what occurred to Mount Pinpoint two decades ago. ” Note that Judgment must be exercised in the use of words in the genus and differentiate, in the choice of which key terms are to be repeated, and in the use of examples to be cited in the definition.
MECHANISM DESCRIPTION Description, besides definition, is a useful technique in technical writing. A writer may describe a mechanism, a process, or even a person. When he describes a mechanism (see the sample in Appendix G) or a machine, he makes use of the following outline; Introduction a. Definition of the machine b. Description of the machine c. Function of the machine d. Main parts of the machine Party-by-party description a. Main Part 1 I. Subpart 1 I’. Subpart 2 b. Main Part 2 Page 2 1. Sub-subpart 1 2. Sub-subpart 2 iii. Subpart 3 c.
Main Part 3 Conclusion/Summary of the main points a. Operation of the machine (by the user) b. Operation by the machine In the writing the description of each main part, subpart, or sub-subpart, the describer cites the part’s color, size or dimensions, shape, material, texture, method of attachment, and relationship with other parts. For example, after describing in the introduction the computer as an entire unit, he describes in the body each of its main parts (monitor, keyboard, CAP], and printed), each of its subparts, and so on.
He ends his composition by writing about how it operates, how it is operated, or both. Note that the outline above does not apply to all machines. The outline varies according to the number of main parts and subparts and the details to be included in the description; the spatial or logical order may be used in the presentation. PROCESS DESCRIPTION Process description (see the sample in Appendix G) is simply describing a series of steps/stages or a series of actions. Unlike a mechanism description which makes use of spatial or logical order, a process description always uses chronological (time) order.
Therefore, the steps or stages are sequenced based on the time of occurrence. The describer arranges these steps or stages in an outline that follows: l. . Definition of the process b. Doer/Agent of the process c. Purpose of the process d. Purpose of the process description e. Point of view of the process description f. Main steps in the process Body/Step-by-step description a. Main Step 1 I. Sub step 1 it. Sub step 2 b. Main Step 2 1. Sub-sub step 1 2. Sub-sub step 2 Page 3 ‘v. Sub step 4 Main Step 3 Process descriptions are classified into directional or instructional and informational.
The directional process description comes in the form of directions/instructions (imperative sentences or commands) addressed to the doer or agent of the action; it s written in the active imperative style and the second-person point of view. Examples of this process are writing, lay outing, cooking and teaching. On the other hand, the informational process description comes in the form of pieces of information (declarative sentence) addressed to the reader of the description who is not the doer or agent of the actions; it is written in the active indicative or passive indicative style and the third-person point of view.
The process is done by any of the following: a group of individuals (human process), e. G. , mass production of wine and newspaper publishing; a machine (mechanical process), e. . , computer data- processing and air-conditioning; and nature (natural process), e. G. , volcanic eruption and disease transmission. Note that the outline above does not apply to all processes. The outline varies according to the number of main steps and sub steps and the details to be included in the description. ANALYSIS OR PARTITIONING Like definition and description, division is a technique commonly used in technical writing.
It may involve one species or several species. When it involves only one species or unit, it is knows as analysis/partitioning as when a unit is divided into its arts (elements/components/constituents). When it involves several species or units, it is called classification as when several units are divided into classes (groups/kinds/ types). In writing an analysis (see the sample in Appendix G), the analyzer makes use of an outline similar to that of a mechanism description. An analysis differs from a mechanism description in that the former deals with a machine, e. . , a family, a guided by the following guidelines (which apply also to classification): 1 . Define the species to be partitioned (classified). Give the guiding principle or basis for partitioning (classified). If there are many bases, use one at a time. Name all the parts (classes) of the species partitioned (classified) per basis. See to it that there is no overlapping of the parts (classes). If there are sub parts (sub classes), name them. CLASSIFICATION Classification (see the sample in Appendix G) is division of several species into classes or groups.
Similar to an analysis, a classification is written with the foregoing guidelines in mind. A classifier has to make an outline as shown below. A. Definition of the thing classified b. Basis of classification Page 4 c. Main groups in the classification Body/Group-by-group description a. Main group 1 I. Subgroup 1 it. Subgroup 2 b. Main group 2 1. Sub-subgroup 1 2. Sub-subgroup 2 ii. Subgroup 2 iii. Subgroup 3 c. Main group 3 Refer to the Taxonomic Classification of Invertebrate Animals (pages 168-169) for a sample.
COMPARISON Species in a given class possess traits common to all. These similar features are responsible for their being grouped into one class. However, species belonging to different classes may exhibit similar traits. When these similarities exist between different groups, there is a need to compare. Thus, a technical writer does a imprison (see the sample in Appendix G). Comparisons maybe literal or figurative. A comparison is literal when the things compared are of the same kind. For example, a cheetah is liked too puma.
On the contrary, a comparison is a figurative when the things compared do not belong to the same class. An example of this is the comparison between machinery (concrete) and liberty (abstract). A figurative comparison is known as an analogy. CONTRAST While similarities exist between two items, differences between them do occur, too. For instance, a whale and a shark have the same appearance and habitat; however, he former is a mammal, whereas the latter is a fish. Fraternal or even identical twins display a number of differences.
Because there are more differences than similarities as regards two items compared, writer’s devised ways or pattern to show contrast (see the sample in Appendix G). These two pattern and the alternating pattern. The block or opposing pattern presents the items contrasted with their corresponding characteristics, separately. For example, when animals and plants are contrasted, animals are described first before plants characterized. An outline for the block pattern is shown on the next page. . Body/late-by-item contrast a. Item 1 I. Quality 1 Page 5 it. Quality 2 iii.
Quality 3 ‘v. Quality 4 b. Items 2 The alternating pattern presents the items contrasted alternatively, that is, one after another, for every point of contrast. For example, when animal and plants are contrasted, structure, locomotion, food production and reproduction are used as points of contrast. For every point of contrast, animals are mentioned before plants are cited. An outlined for the alternating pattern is presented below. L. Body/Point-by-point contrast a. Point of contrast//Quality 1 I. Item 1 t. Item 2 b. Point of contrast//Quality 2 c. Point of contrast//Quality 3 d.
Point of contrast//Quality 4 CAUSATION/CAUSAL ANALYSIS In the different field of science, students and specialists are curious and interested to know the whys and wherefore’s of things. Such curiosity and interest lead them to discover the causes of events or phenomena. This discovery enables them to report and explain the cause and effect of things in such a way that readers have the facility to comprehend. Causation (see the sample in Appendix G) is one of thee techniques commonly used phenomenon. It may be presented in various ways, based on the number of causes and effects involved and the interrelationship between the two.
Below are the patterns showing cause-effect relationship: Single cause-effect pattern Cause Effect Page 6 Single cause-multiple effect pattern Effect 1 Effect 2 Effect 3 Multiple cause-single effect pattern Cause 1 Cause 2 Cause 3 Multiple cause-multiple effect patter Domino/Staircase effect Death AIDS transmission Prostitution Poverty The first pattern is exemplified by the relationship between a plane crash (single cause) and death of passengers (single effect); the second, between drug addiction single cause) and its individual and social effects (multiple effects); the third, between heredity and environment (multiple causes) and personality (single effect); the fourth, between land pollution, air pollution, and water pollution (multiple effects) and indiscriminate throwing of garbage and similar factors (multiple causes); and fifth is exemplified by poverty leading to death.