Cover

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Title, Copyright Pages

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pp. i-iv

TABLE OF CONTENTS

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pp. v-viii

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PREFACE

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pp. ix-x

How to Write a Precis should be of interest to language teachers and language students in general, and to teachers and students of translation in particular. The material in this book was compiled primarily for use by students and teachers of translation at the university level. The precis is an exercise that is admirably suited to developing language skills, and the exercises presented here were initially developed and used in first-language and ...

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

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pp. xi-xii

This book has been written during my years of teaching English writing techniques at the School of Translators and Interpreters of the University of Ottawa. I would like to thank my colleagues Roda Roberts, Jean Delisle, and Ingrid Meyer for their ongoing support and encouragement in this project. I am also grateful to Judith Woodsworth and Brenda Hosington for acting as readers, and to Wendy...

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INTRODUCTION

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pp. xiii-xiv

The precis is a type of written summary, in narrative form, that accurately reflects the content of an original passage. It is primarily an academic exercise used to develop the student's ability to understand written material, to reformulate ideas succinctly, and to write well. This manual is divided into two parts: Part One describes theory and methods, and Part Two consists of a selection of practical exercises. Part One describes what the ...

PART ONE

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CHAPTER 1 What Is a Précis?

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pp. 2-6

In a broad sense, the term "precis" can be defined as a summary—a summary of the contents of a document or series of documents, a summary of a series of events, or a summary of the proceedings of a meeting or conference. However, the term is usually used in a more specialized way, to designate a particular type of summarizing exercise used for academic purposes. In this book, the word "precis" will be used in this more specialized sense: it will refer to a written text, of a prescribed length, that accurately...

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CHAPTER 2 How Is the Précis Used?

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pp. 7-12

Summary-writing dates back almost to the beginning of the keeping of written records; man has always sought a means of briefly indicating the essence of a text. Precis-writing as a specific branch of summary-writing has developed more recently, and has evolved into its present form principally in the past century. The summarizing of documents was practised even before books as we know them today existed. Detailed accounts ...

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CHAPTER 3 How Do You Write a Précis?

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pp. 13-18

How exactly do you write a precis? The best results are achieved by taking a systematic approach to the exercise.1 The process can be broken down into five basic steps: 1) reading and understanding the text; 2) analysing the content; 3) selecting and compressing important material; 4) preparing the draft precis; and 5) revising the precis....

CHAPTER 4 Guidelines for Précis-Writing

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pp. 19-22

APPENDIX I: Evaluating the Précis: Guidelines for the Teacher

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pp. 23-24

APPENDIX II: A Proposed Writing Skills Program for Translators

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pp. 25-26

BIBLIOGRAPHY

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pp. 27-28

PART TWO

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Introduction to Part Two

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pp. 31-32

Part Two of this manual contains a series of practical exercises in precis-writing which will give you the chance to put into practice some of the principles and techniques described in Part One. The exercises in Part Two follow a logical progression; Sections 1 to 5 take you from the initial stages of reading and...

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SECTION 1 Comprehension

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pp. 33-38

The exercises in this section are designed to test your comprehension of expressions, sentences, paragraphs, and longer texts. In Exercises 1 and 2, you must explain the meaning of specific expressions. In Exercises 3 to 6, you must read paragraphs and then answer multiple choice questions on the tone, purpose and topic of each. In Exercise 7, you must describe the tone, purpose and topic of a number of paragraphs. Exercise 8 contains a longer text; you must answer general an...

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SECTION 2 Analysis of Meaning

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pp. 39-42

It is important to be able to identify the major ideas and the underlying structure of a text. There are various types of exercises that can help develop this ability: for example, after reading a text, you can make a list of the key terms in the text, you can draw up an outline for the text, or you can identify ideas in the text as being either of primary or secondary im...

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SECTION 3 Brevity

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pp. 43-46

There are a number of ways to achieve brevity in writing. You can sometimes shorten a text with virtually no loss of meaning by simply writing more concisely—by replacing an entire wordy expression with one carefully chosen word, by substituting a succinct syntactic structure for a cumbersome one, by eliminating repetitions and redundancies, or by recasting an entire sentence in briefer...

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SECTION 4 Paraphrasing

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pp. 47-48

A paraphrase is essentially a rewording of an original message: the content of the original passage is expressed in different words. There is usually no great difference between the length of the original text and the length of the paraphrase. The paraphrased text usually follows the original text quite closely; segments of text are replaced systematically. Most of the vocabulary and expressions used...

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SECTION 5 Précis-Writing

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pp. 49-58

This section contains a selection of texts for you to precis. As you do the exercises, be methodical. Be sure to read each text carefully, taking note of any distinctive features of tone or style. Underline key terms; identify the topic of each paragraph. After you write your precis, count the number of words in it and see how close you are to the required length. Revise your draft carefully; it should be able to stand alone as a piece of composition. I..

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SECTION 6 Summarizing Spoken Texts

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pp. 59-64

A written summary of a speech, of proceedings, or of other spoken material is called a summary record. Read the section entitled Reported Speech in Part One, Chapter 4, for general guidelines on converting direct speech to indirect speech. In abridging a speech, you must make several adaptations of format to convert direct speech to indirect speech...

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SECTION 7 Interlingual Précis-Writing

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pp. 65-68

When writing a precis in a language other than that of the original, you can follow the same approach as in intralingual precis-writing, but you must add an additional step: you must shift from one language to another. This shift can be made either at the outline stage, or later on, at the drafting stage. You may wish to draw up your outline in the target language, translating the main ideas as ..

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SECTION 8 Popularization-Summaries

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pp. 69-72

A popularization-summary is an easily understood abridged version of a fairly complex original text. Writing a popularizationsummary involves a combination of skills: not only must you determine and communicate the major ideas in the original, but you must also adapt the style and level of diction to suit a general readership. The popularized version should be...

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SECTION 9 Abstracting

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pp. 73-76

Abstracting is a specialized form of summarizing, and is usually done by the author of the document himself, by a specialist in the subject matter, or by a specialist in the art of abstracting. Courses in abstracting are sometimes given as part of information-science and library-science programs. Abstracting can also be included in writing skills programs, within...