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English 10: Class Notes  Notes on Paraphrasing

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This week, the class worked on an Owl Online Writing Lab worksheet on the topic of paraphrasing. Each group tried to write an accurate paraphrase, capturing the essential information of the quotation in their own words. See the original assignment here. Teacher comments in italics.

The Original Quotation:

1. "The Antarctic is the vast source of cold on our planet, just as the sun is the source of our heat, and it exerts tremendous control on our climate," [Jacques] Cousteau told the camera. "The cold ocean water around Antarctica flows north to mix with warmer water from the tropics, and its upwellings help to cool both the surface water and our atmosphere. Yet the fragility of this regulating system is now threatened by human activity." From "Captain Cousteau," Audubon (May 1990):17.

(Group One: Morning)

The Antarctic is very important in the regulation of global temperature, just like the sun is giving the earth warmth, the Antarctic is giving it coldness. The Antarctic covers a large area of the earth, and has a lot of cold sources, so it can make the warm water from the tropics cold. The "upwelling" of the mixture makes the surface of the water colder and then cools the climate. 

There is added information here and the idea of "threat" is missed. However, the essential information is given, though a bit mixed up.

(Group Two: Morning)

The Antarctic supplies the coldness to cool the warm tropics from the sun's heat by mixing the water. This weak balanced system of the cool and the atmosphere is facing big trouble because of human activity. 

It is the cooling and not the "mixing" that is most important, so the first sentence is not quite correct. The system itself is not "weak" as "fragile" is more like "easily damaged" or some substitute like that.

(Group Three: Morning)

The sun is a huge source of heat; likewise, the Antarctic is a source of cold water. And the cold water around the Antarctic gathers with the cold water from the north and influences the level of water in the atmosphere enough for life on earth. This is not a strong system, which is controlled by humans. 

There is an added idea here about the effect of the Arctic, and not only of the Antarctic. Also the idea that water levels will be affected by the Antarctic, while true, is not given in the original quote. The final sentence is unclear as well.

(Group One: Afternoon, Version 1)

The Antarctic and the sun are playing the important roles to control our climate. The cold Antarctic water moves up to the tropics to cool down the water and the surface above it. Also, this system is in danger by human activity.  

Pretty good, though the transition word should be "but" or "however" rather than "also." One can omit the reference to "sun" as it is only used to emphasize how important the cold water is to our climate.

(Group One: Afternoon, Version 2)

The Antarctic and the sun are the two controlling bodies of our climate. The cold Antarctic water mixes with the warm tropical water and cools down the surface water and the atmosphere. The ecosystem is endangered by humans. 

Cousteau has not said that sun and Antarctic are the only two, but the paraphrase makes it seem so. Use "this ecosystem" rather than "the ecosystem" to make last sentence clearer. Not too bad.

(Group Two: Afternoon)

The Antarctic plays the most important role in controlling the Earth's cold. This cold water flows to the north and then mixes with warm water from the tropics. But now, this kind of regulating system is threatened by human activity. 

Cousteau does not say it is "most important" but one could say "very important." The effect on the atmosphere is omitted here, but the overall message of a threat is effectively conveyed.

(Group Three: Afternoon)

Mr. Cousteau told the interviewer that the Antarctic plays an important role to control the climate of our planet. The cold water from the Antarctic provides a huge amount of cold water to the south to mix with the warm water from the tropics. But now we have human activity that threatens this climate system.

Good paraphrase to say "an important role" and the mixing of the water is appropriately conveyed. Effect on atmosphere could be added, but otherwise a good paraphrase here.

Teacher's Paraphrase:

Jacques Cousteau argues that an essential climatic regulating mechanism, which depends on the vast resources of cold water in the Antarctic and serves to moderate the temperature of the ocean and atmosphere in the tropics, is at risk due to human actions. (Brad)

Owl's Sample Paraphrase

1. According to Jacques Cousteau, the activity of people in Antarctica is jeopardizing a delicate natural mechanism that controls the earth's climate. He fears that human activity could interfere with the balance between the sun, the source of the earth's heat, and the important source of cold from Antarctic waters that flow north and cool the oceans and atmosphere ("Captain Cousteau" 17).

Some students noticed that there is no evidence in the original excerpt for "the activity of people in Antarctica" as being the cause of the threat. Otherwise, a very good paraphrase.


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