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Transitions – shifting between and within topics

Darryl Gladstone’s Transitions – shifting between and within topics

This paper, which contrasts the communication habits of a previous generation with those of a younger generation, contains several excellent examples of transitions.

Gladstone uses transitions to signal a shift:

1)    Between topics, e.g. from the communication habits of a previous generation to the communication habits of a younger generation;

OR

2)    Within a topic, e.g. from discussing what constitutes “text speak” –

the pidgin language used in text messaging – to discussing why people use text-speak.

Most of Gladstone’s transitions:

1)    Make reference to the topic they have just discussed

AND

2)         Introduce the topic they will discuss next

Check out the examples below to learn how Gladstone’s transitions work.

Example 1

Looking at the way the current general populace has replaced emotional forms of communication like face-to- face conversation with such things as mass texting and instant messaging, one finds it hard not to agree with the arguments Winn and Heidegger proposed about television and technology as a whole.

Gladstone uses this transition to shift between two topics. Up to this point in this introductory paragraph, the writer’s primary goal has been to explain the central theories of Marie Winn and Martin Heidegger. With this sentence, he takes the reader from 1) Winn and Heidegger, and the important works they wrote in the second half of the twentieth century, to our 2) communication habits today.

Notice that this long transitional sentence includes both a reference to the topic Gladstone has just discussed – he mentions Winn and Heidegger near the end of the sentence – as well as an introduction to the topic he will discuss next, i.e. the “current general populace.”

Example 2

Unfortunately, this is not the situation among the younger people of today, the e-generation.

With this simple transition, Darryl takes signals a shift between topics - from 1) the nature of face-to-face communication (in the previous paragraph) to 2) the communication habits of the e-generation (in the paragraph that will follow).

In this sentence, the word “this” refers to the topic Gladstone has just discussed – the nature of face to face communication – while he introduces the subject of the next paragraph with the words “the younger people of today.”

Example 3

Even more disturbing than our reduction of I Love You to ily, are the reasons we sometimes resort to using the cute little expression.

In this paragraph, Gladstone has been discussing what constitutes “text-speak,” with the abbreviation “ily” for “I love you” as his primary example. Here, he signals to the reader that the next paragraph will enumerate some of the reasons we use text-speak. He signals a transition within a topic with this sentence.

This transitional sentence includes both a reference to the topic Gladstone has just discussed (“our reduction of I Love You to ily”) AND an introduction of the topic he will discuss next (“the reasons we sometimes result to using the ‘cute’ little expression”)

Example 4

The reframing that Heidegger refers to is the trend among the e-generation today.

This transition is a little bit different than the other ones we’ve highlighted in this paper. Its purpose is to serve as to bridge between a quotation from Michael Zimmerman (analyzing Heidegger) and Darryl’s own analysis of the philosopher’s ideas. But the same principles of good transitions apply here. Notice that Darryl uses a key word from the quotation – “reframing” – in his transitional phrase. With this, he refers back to what’s just been discussed. And he signals what he’ll discuss next – “the trend among the e-generation today.”

Next steps

Here are three steps to take in writing transitions:

1)    Identify what idea or fact you will be referring back to;

2)    Identify what idea or fact you will be introducing next (that is, what idea or fact you will be transitioning to); AND

3)  Write a sentence that includes mention of both the subject you have just discussed AND the subject you will discuss next.

Topic: Fall 2009, Resources for Students Tags: None

One Response to “Transitions – shifting between and within topics”

  1. ILY? – By Darryl Gladstone | i Magazine Says:

    [...] To read about how Darryl Gladstone uses transitions in his writing, click here. [...]

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