This I Believe

Tyler Upright

English 300


Summary and Synthesis Report #1



In chapter 3 of What Writing Does and How It Does It, Ellen Barton discusses the impact discourse analysis may have on different methods of writing. She argues that through discourse analysis, we are given the opportunity to analyze specific features of language in text, and better understand how they contribute to the interpretations of text. In other words, this concept revolves around the idea that discourse analysis provides the reader a different lens to comprehend texts further. She analyzes everything from sentence structure and its impact on a readers understanding, to describing the simplistic ways humans may communicate face-to-face. Further in the reading, Barton explains “In this analysis, evidentials became a rich feature because their use systematically established a difference in the ways that epistemological stance is conventionally expressed by experienced vs. inexperienced writers in academic writing” (Barton 72). The neat way evidentials are weaved into text assist the argument Barton claims, the idea that with sed features they contribute to our interpretation of the text.



The authors of Chapter 8 in What Writing Does and How It does It, Kevin Leander and Paul Prior, list and describe the applied methods of writing that are ways of representing talk in text. Leander and Prior would find themselves not only agreeing with Barton, but contributing to ways of better interpreting texts. They cover the various ways text is interpreted by, and created for, the reader. From “Think Aloud Transcription” to “Conversation Analytic Transcription,” the reader is provided multiple angles to better comprehend a reading. These methods directly correlate to ways in which text is understood. For example, conversation analytic transcription is the use of many literary devices to translate recorded talk into text. This method “has also extended literary devices in several key ways to capture the details of talk” (Leander and Prior 210). This means devices such as an ‘//’ will be able to help the reader understand that the dialogue has someone overtalking the other. In another example, the use of ‘=’ between two continuous lines of text represents a quick turn in dialogue, with no break. These are techniques that provide an answer to a question, how do we as readers or writers, fluently transcribe verbal conversations to text. Overall, the use of conversation analytic transcription enhances the readers reading experience, which parallels to the concept of adding new lenses for further understandings of text.

The English language is constantly changing, always adapting to each generation, each cultural phenomenon, each person. In do you speak american?, the author creates a debate between two different kinds of literary minds. In chapter 1, he calls the debate, The Language Wars, and the concepts closely relate to those of Barton’s. Barton believes there are plentiful ways in which specific features of a language can contribute to its interpretation of texts.  While Barton may evaluate the subject-verb-object order, this article describes the usefulness of faster communication, and its effectiveness over technical, disciplined speaking . For example, “Those negotiations continuing. Mr. Bush speaking to reporters earlier today. Suddenly optimistic (do you speak american? 28).” In three sentences, the idea is successfully crossed to the reader, while managing to keep the time that is spent dwelling on the subject relatively short. In today’s society, time is as valuable as ever and proper communication is plausible in this short, but grammatically incorrect phrasing. Even translated to text, we are able to understand it because our culture can currently relate to it. This method of communication would be a way in which Barton says we analyze our language and interpret it. It is also a unique feature of analyzation as our language is continually changing. In a few decades or even centuries this form of rapid, or spitball, communication may be non-existent and incoherent in terms of properly using our language.

Thirdly, the author of chapter 10 in What Writing Does and How It Does It, Jack Selzer, reviews certain concepts that help its readers better understand how text has the power of persuasion. The breakdown on contextual rhetorical analysis explains its importance in the role of persuasion. Contextual rhetorical analysis requires the reader to not simply read the text in front of them, but to “understand communications through the lens of their environments” (Selzer 292). This enables a different outlook on the given text to each individual reader. The sheer number of possibilities each reader can interpret and connect with the text is limitless. This method of analysis pushes the reader further, to comprehend the reading as a part of different cultures. The text is given the opportunity to connect on a personal level with everyone. It has the possibility to be timeless, as the reader may always be able to relate the text back to something relevant and current. Barton would agree this method of analysis provides any reader a different lens to interpret the text at hand. Therefore, the concept of contextual rhetorical analysis has successfully managed to grasp an understanding of our language, and use it to continually “add more” to our texts.

In Socratic Commitment and Critical Literacy, we are also given the opportunity to view the negative effects language may have on its texts. Throughout chapter 3, the author addresses critical literacy and how he has seen it applied. In one case, the importance of proper language usage becomes evident. The fact that “The reporters who also really knew what Liang argued, focused on his “grammatical errors” (Socratic 31). In context, Liang had written an argumentative and emotional email that had a clear motive and message. The issue arose when critics, instead of answering the problem presented at hand, turned to specifics of the email that were unimportant. Previously, we have agreed that unique twists in language allows a deeper interpretation for its readers, but in this situation, it is used as a “weapon” to discredit someone.  In comparison to the argument Barton created, the issue in Chapter three of Socratic Commitment and Critical Literacy is the misuse or incorrect way to analyze language in text.

Finally, in Scrolling Forward, David Levy provides a unique outlook on the significance of receipts. Previously, we have analyzed practices such as conversation analytic transcription, improper vs. proper forms of communication, and contextual rhetorical analysis. For each of these practices, none of them emphasize the physical form in which they communicate their texts quite like a receipt can. In chapter 1 of Scrolling Forward, we have the opportunity to identify the importance the way text is presented. In modern society, every person is able to identify a receipt by its form factor, small font, and its list format. Although it may not seem like it, Barton’s would have to agree that, although simplistic, receipts have a valid place in regards to using our language to interpret text. Levy praises the receipt for its ability to accomplish so much in a remarkable manner. It communicates to the reader in such a simplistic way, that it becomes extremely useful. “The thin strip of paper, the column of numbers in blocky fixed-width characters, the logo at the top all serve to identify it” (Levy 18). The receipt takes the most basic functionality traits and uses it to its advantage. Simple font, simple words, simple format, simple document. This method allows for quick and fluid exchange between the reader and receipt. Barton would have to agree that the receipt manages to take the most simple aspects of language, and allow the user to interpret it for a single, but universally useful message.


  1. How, if even possible, can a writer translate his/her correct message in a text, without cultural conversation analysis causing miscommunication for the reader.
  2. In a society that is constantly breaking the mold and changing, how will text that’s using informal language translate to future generations? Will it convey the same message? Will the story be hindered because of a rough or improper translation? Would it have been better in the long run to stick with the proper form of language?
  3. With all of these options to interpret text through different features of language, can the reader become more susceptible to misinterpretation?

Word Count: 1372

For my proposal, I wish to focus on a subject that significantly affects the majority of young adults, as well as children. Social media’s rise has become the symbol of my generation. It has latched onto us and changed nearly everyone’s life in one way or another.  Fifteen or twenty years ago, the way people interacted with each other on a day-to-day basis was noticeably different.  This month marked the fourteenth birthday of the social media Goliath “Facebook”, the same company that exploded forward the social media movement.  Personally, my involvement in social media includes, but not limited to: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and Youtube. In retrospect, getting so entangled in social media in order to expand my communications, has somehow managed to exactly the opposite. Unfortunately for me, this realization has come in a slow process, as I am still involved in some -but not all- of my social media platforms. I have indeed found myself guilty of considering every one of my snapchat streaks I have, a friendship. I have found myself guilty of posting my “highlight reel” onto different platforms, which only propels this fake facade more and more people seem to push out, as well as be drawn to. I can now understand the horrible way in which this effects my mental attitude. On top of this, my real life social interactions have lessened, as texting and Face-Timing has replaced many of my family and friends need to visit each other as frequently.
For my project, I plan on analyzing the overbearing weight social media has put on everyone. In order to do this, I will aim to research the average time spent on social media platforms, and how that has affected health as well as face-to-face communication. Secondly, I wish to look into the mental toll social media may have made on the younger population. While you are surrounded by your friends and peers posts that display their best moments in life, we normalize these actions which can negatively effect many people. I know this has effected me greatly. On top of this, I wish to look into tests that compare the differences between those on social media, and those that drop it. By February 9th, I will have researched and found sources I like in regards to the average time spent on media. I will also look for research that compares the Social Media vs No Social Media. On February 11th I will have the impact of normalizing these featured events shown on social media. Lastly, I will also research the mental toll all of this takes on humans, as well as the everlasting impact it may have on future generations (kids always on electronics, ex: while working at a grocery story, I noticed nearly all kids now sit in the shopping cart and watch youtube videos, rather walk around). On February 13th I plan to double check sources and look for anything that needs more supporting evidence. Possible graphs, videos that elaborate more, and write down my own personal experience and how I connect on my own level.