Paraphrase - Term Overview

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Paraphrase (or colloquially "paraphrasing") is the action of explaining the content of any text using your own words, to facilitate understanding of the text using a different language. This procedure is common in teaching, evaluation and verification of knowledge.

The term "paraphrase" comes from the Greek words para, which means "together", and phrasis, "diction". It's commonly understood as the act of "translating" a statement or a text from its original language to a more personal, intimate, plain or colloquial one. It's a method of summary since the paraphrases tends to be shorter, simpler and easier than the original.

Paraphrasing is a very common mechanism in our lives and can be classified into two different types: mechanical paraphrasing and constructive paraphrasing, depending on the degree of distortion of the original text that is carried out.

Mechanical paraphrase

The mechanical paraphrase is one that is content to replace the words of the original text with simpler or colloquial equivalents. It tends to keep the structure of the original text intact, only making minimal syntactic changes, since basically what it does is go to synonyms and equivalents.

For example, if the original phrase reads: "Playwrights enter their own creative dynamics with the confidence of those who enjoy a captive audience," we could mechanically paraphrase it like this: literary creation with the confidence that always gives them the same audience ".

Constructive paraphrase

The constructive paraphrase allows itself many more freedoms with respect to the original text, reconstructing it and intervening it in a profound way, but always keeping the same intact meaning.

For example, if the original phrase reads "Playwrights enter into their own creative dynamics with the confidence of those who enjoy a captive audience", a constructive paraphrase could say: "When creating, theater writers They have an advantage that other types of writers do not, and that is that they have a captive audience to give them greater confidence ".

Examples of paraphrases

Some examples of paraphrases are:

- Original: "The purpose of art is to embody the secret essence of things, not to copy their appearance" said Aristotle.

Paraphrase: According to Aristotle, art has the mission of embodying the hidden essence of reality, instead of simply copying its appearance.

- Original: "And it should be noted that the destruction of these islands and lands began to be lost and destroyed since the death of the serene Queen Isabel was known there, which was the year of one thousand and five hundred and four" (by Fray Bartolomé de las Casas, Very brief account of the destruction of the Indies ).

Paraphrase: The doom of those islands and lands began after the news of the death of Queen Elizabeth was known in 1504.

- Original: "Some recent research by E. Fermi and L. Szilard, which has been communicated to me in a manuscript, makes me suppose that the element uranium may become a new and important source of energy in the immediate future" (Albert Einstein, in letter to Franklin D. Roosevelt)

Paraphrase: Albert Einstein had received the then recent research from E. Fermi and L. Szilard and had concluded that uranium could become an important new energy source in the not too distant future.

How to make a paraphrase?

Elaborating a paraphrase is very simple, but above all it requires an understanding of the original text. Therefore, the first step is to read and interpret it, in order to fully understand what it says. Then you can extract the main ideas from the text and then the supporting ideas.

Once this information has been obtained, it will be possible to proceed to explain with the language itself what the original text said, knowing that the main idea must be the same and the secondary ideas must have the same relationship in the text. Tertiary or contextual ideas can be discarded.

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