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LINGUIST List 20.516

Wed Feb 18 2009

Disc: New: Representing paraphrases of paraphrases

Editor for this issue: Catherine Adams <catherinlinguistlist.org>

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        1.    Greg Kochanski, New: Representing paraphrases of paraphrases

Message 1: New: Representing paraphrases of paraphrases
Date: 18-Feb-2009
From: Greg Kochanski <greg.kochanskiphon.ox.ac.uk>
Subject: New: Representing paraphrases of paraphrases
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Linguists spend a lot of paper describing what other linguists said about
something. It's common so see a sentence like this in a publication: ''The
idea that the syntactic frammistan was a co-paradigmatic member of
the relational tier was first suggested by Smith (1924), and supported by...''
(All content has been surgically removed from the preceding quote.)

In itself, this is fine. The trouble comes when someone reads that
paraphrase and uses it as the basis for their own paraphrase. Now, no one
should be doing that without reading the original source, but (a) people do
cut corners occasionally, and (b) even if you read the original source, you
may still be affected by the paraphrased version. (Especially, for instance, if the
paraphrase is well-written and captures the main idea in a very compact form.)

So, after several generations of this, it's easily possible for the
original meaning to become lost. Or, more commonly, the original idea gets
simplified and gently warped towards the dominant paradigm. If you keep
your eyes open, it's not hard to find cases where -- by the time something
gets into the textbooks -- it has changed quite a bit from the original

So, to minimize this problem, you'd like to keep your paraphrase as close
as possible to the original author's text. You'd even like to use some of
his/her words and phrases, if possible. But, of course you need to make it
clear that the words are a close paraphrase and not a quote or not your own.

So, it seems like a new punctuation mark might be in order. I call it a
semiquote, and suggest that we might use the little double angle-brackets
that are used for quotes in many languages. A more detailed explanation
can be found at


Linguistic Field(s): Discipline of Linguistics
                            Discourse Analysis

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