definational techniques

By Rhonda Perkins,2014-01-20 10:06
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definational techniques

    by Professor Merrill Whitburn

    In the course of developing a report, essay, memo, etc. writers are often called

    upon to define their terms. Some of the more common definitional techniques

     used in professional and academic writing are described below.

    ; An Aristotelian or formal definition assigns a thing to a genus or class

    and then indicates the differences between the thing and other

    members of the class. Example: Craps is a gambling game played with

    two dice in which a first throw of 7 or 11 wins the bet; a first throw of 2, 3,

    or 12 loses; and a first throw of any other number (a point) must be

    repeated to win before a 7 is thrown--otherwise, the player loses both

    the bet and the dice.

    ; An explication defines the meaning of key words in an Aristotelian or

    formal definition. An example that might follow the above definition:

    Dice are small cubes marked on each side with a number of small dots,

    varying from 1 to 6. The number of dots on opposite sides always add

    up to 7.

    ; An operational definition refers individuals to a location or situation

    where they might observe a phenomenon. Example: If you are driving

    south along a highway, you will experience the Doppler effect if you

    listen to the sound of a car heading north that approaches and then

    passes you.

    ; An analysis separates a whole into its component parts. Example: Air

    is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, gaseous mixture containing nitrogen,

    oxygen, carbon dioxide, neon, and helium.

    ; An example suggests one member of a class of objects to convey an

    accurate impression of the entire class. Example: The maple is an

    example of a deciduous tree.

    ; Graphics provide a pictorial representation where lines, dots, arrows,

    etc. are configured into representational patterns.

    ; Comparisons and contrasts suggest ways in which objects or

    concepts are similar to or different from one another. Example: Both the

    maple and the pine are trees; but the former is deciduous, the latter


    ; An elimination indicates what something is not to clarify what it is.

    Example: Clear-cutting is not the removal of only a few trees in a forest


    ; An etymology explores the origin and historical development of a word.

    Example: Synchronism can be better understood if we realize that the

    original meaning of syn was together, and that of chronism was time.

    ; History records the events in the development of something. Example:

    It will be easier to understand what is meant by the discipline of

    technical communication if we explore how it evolved.

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