Paraphrase Like An Artist of Words
How to Paraphrase and Remain Original
My extremely pedantic friend once said that paraphrasing is plagiarism in its core. I replied back, asking, “Haven’t you written research papers at university? Students indulge in the art (or sly craft) of paraphrasing all the time. But yea, pal, this is plagiarism unless you cite the sources of the paraphrased sentences.” He said, “We all know that the majority doesn’t refer to the original when paraphrasing. Even an efficient plagiarism checker discerns the parts that were thoroughly paraphrased as unique ones.” Another girl heard our conversation, which made her remark, “How can you accuse them of plagiarism that is invisible?”
With this in mind, how can we prove that paraphrasing without referencing is plagiarism? Well, a professor with an experienced eye of an educational bird of prey will see it instantly. Even if your paragraphs were rewritten in your own words, satiated with a bunch of synonyms, the information you provided would expose you. The details, even when paraphrased, remain the same subject matters. Probably, you, as a student, cannot be an inventor of the things you describe in research papers, that’s why you need to provide references. Your work, even a seemingly authentic one, becomes suspicious without crediting other authors, besides the one who owns your brilliant mind ;). The teacher will simply ask you, “Where did you get the material/data/facts, etc?” When you paraphrase but do not cite you source, you are guilty of plagiarism because you appropriate information you did not investigate on your own. Hence, every student and writer of any category must know how to paraphrase and, what is important, conceive the implication of paraphrasing, as well as all the cases when it is relevant and irrelevant to practice it.
Are H. and O. Paraphrasing Geniuses?
I once wrote an article, inquiring into the possibility of plagiarism in famous classic literature dystopian novels. There was a trio of writers who produced stunning books, extremely significant for the history of humanity. Nonetheless, there was a peculiarity, which led to the accusation of distinctive similarities in all three literary creations. For some experienced readers, the plagiarized parts were evident. The themes they explored and even the sequence and depiction of certain events intersected radically. So, who am I talking about? Evgenii Zamyatin, Aldous Huxley, and George Orwell. The initial known source appears to be Zamyatin’s novel “We”, presumably written in 1921. The similar motives were also embodied in Huxley’s “Brave New World”. The next distinguished dystopian book that seems to stem from the two previously mentioned literary pieces is Orwell’s “1984”. Of course, all those books are separate oeuvres written by classics, but we can also imagine such a scenario: Huxley paraphrased certain parts of “We”, while Orwell paraphrased the excerpts from “Brave New World”. Consequently, all these creations are original, but particular recognizable moments and the sequence of events make an attentive reader think, “Could such great authors plumb the depths of paraphrasing?” It’s ghastly to envision such things for bibliophiles as the exposure of plagiarism at this level would undercut the efforts of all writers that work within the same genres; it would also affect the readers’ trust. Let my guesses remain sheer literary nightmares. But if you don’t know me, just be sure – my investigations will continue…
What Is Paraphrasing?
When asking this question, it is essential to realize that paraphrasing doesn’t make the written text your own. Creating a thought from scratch is completely different thing, even if you paraphrase sentences using all the exquisite synonyms you know. Hence, the paraphrased text always has the initial source. Ironically, the more creative you get, the trickier it becomes. It may be weird, but in the unique instances, your paraphrasing may turn into an authentic product. How come? When discussing this issue with my innovative friend, I had to expect a question, “What if I paraphrase a scientific article in such a way that I will make poetry out of it? Will it still be plagiarism?”. Wow, that’s terrific. Believe me, I didn’t know what to say. Paraphrasing a research paper, non-fiction, mass media article into something that consists of not only different words but also embodies a discrepant style, becomes a literary genre, a fiction – that’s an ingenious idea, which entails great efforts. Something that was supposedly “stolen” raises as an original brainchild. It’s impossible to discern such a sly shtick as plagiarism as it is a creative work in its core. But you know, if I were “the perpetrator”, I would indicate my source anyway, confessing that “I paraphrased National Geographic article and obtained a unique poetry.” Readers would appreciate it. It will make the reading of the poetry itself even more compelling.
Asking such a question as “what is paraphrasing?”, you simply have to realize that we are surrounded by common symbols, we take part in the same events, we unconsciously stick to the same daily routines, not necessarily knowing each other. This way, common interests and similar lifestyles emerge, and such interconnections wonderfully nurture mutual patterns of thinking. Just fletcherize it assiduously: our whole lives along with our actions and decisions are constantly paraphrased. Perhaps, I already heard similar thoughts from someone and I’m paraphrasing them now, not even having a clue (but already guessing, not excluding the possibility of it).
The paraphrase definition can be as simple as it is: rewording or restatement of a sentence or a paragraph with the main aim to preserve an original idea. I also won’t be tired to repeat the modest truth about it: even if the paraphrased sentence looks purely original, this is not the work of your mind. Apparently, many “bold spirits” have been misusing it for the sake of producing and presenting a seemingly legitimate piece of paper. Sadly, most of the “perpetrators” succeed to fool editors, professors, and others who are responsible for proofreading the texts and assessing the end results. I still hope that there are many assessors with eagle eyes, which discern the frauds easily. For instance, you skillfully paraphrased some boffinated paragraph interspersed with the complicated scientific vocabulary. Okay, do you think you will come through unscathed? The mere sophistication of your work will expose the fact that the written thoughts are not yours. The expert will likely ask you, “Where did you get these ideas from?”. You will have to prove that the investigation is yours and doesn’t consist of the concealed resources. Even an experienced scientific researcher needs to dive into the credible bibliography to form a thorough scholarly article. Only a lucky genius can dare to cite himself and no one else, but it usually occurs with whimsical authors of fiction.
Paraphrase your own Sentences and then Master Quotes
So do you want to learn to paraphrase efficiently? You can start with making out sentences to paraphrase them right away. For instance:
Original: I have been living in Paris for 7 years because my creative potential could be revealed only in the city where my favorite poets lived.
Paraphrase: I moved to Paris 7 years ago to express my creativity following the traces of great French poets.
However, if your task was to paraphrase the original sentence written by another author, you would have to replace “I” with “she” or “he”, depending on the context. How would you cite the direct speech of some famous person? Let’s take Salvador Dali’s quote as an example.
Original: “At the age of six I wanted to be a cook. At seven I wanted to be Napoleon. And my ambition has been growing steadily ever since.”
Paraphrase: Salvador Dali wanted to master the art of cooking when he was six. The seven-year-old boy expressed his wish to turn into Napoleon. His ambitions progressed tremendously thereafter.
There are also instances when you have to paraphrase a quotation from a book to narrate the story or a particular event in your own words. Let’s take a quote from Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World” as an example.
Original: “I ate civilization. It poisoned me; I was defiled. And then," he added in a lower tone, "I ate my own wickedness.”
Paraphrase: One of Huxley’s characters says that he tasted the phenomenon of civilization and it gave him nothing more than poison and dishonored him, but after that, he engulfed his own animosity.
Apparently, such meaningful quotes are usually not paraphrased but stated as they are. By paraphrasing the direct speech of literary characters, you risk distorting the message of the antagonist or the villain, shattering the fictional world intended by the author. To remain on the authentic side when paraphrasing (in other words, learning how to avoid plagiarism), you must indicate the author of the original text by including such preliminary expressions as according to, as the researcher said, my friend told me, the statistics of the company demonstrated, etc.
Original: “India is the best country I have ever been to. It’s extremely complicated and it’s absolutely marvelous to live there, conquering the mountains, discovering forgotten ancient temples, traveling like a rolling stone with the sunshine of happiness in your heart…” said Valeria.
Paraphrase: Valeria told me that India conquered her heart. She said it’s both difficult and remarkable to dwell in this country, hiking the mountains and finding the gems of old sanctuaries, wandering like a nomad, but a genuinely happy one.
- Immerse in the scrupulous reading and understanding of the passages you need to cite.
- Take notes of the aspects that are essential to your work.
- Be careful when rewording a piece created by a representer of a different cultural background. There may be parts that are unfamiliar to your culture, specifically linguistic ones. You should translate them thoughtfully, without distorting the accuracy of the original meaning. Keep in mind: if the word from your primary source is exotic and special, it can lose its meaning upon translation. In this case, you can indicate a separate word using quotation marks.
- Replace the initial words with synonyms but do not copy the ideas word for word (however, sometimes you are allowed to do it with quotes).
- Cite the author of the quote and his work where it appears. If you do not do it, your paraphrased sentence automatically becomes plagiarism no matter how many synonyms you employed.
Other General Paraphrasing Principles
- Mention the major pieces of information in a reversed manner but do not distort the main ideas.
- Change the active voice into the passive one.
- If you have to paraphrase a long sentence, break it into several small sentences, simultaneously changing the structure.
Quote Less, Paraphrase More
Let’s train our imagination, envisioning the Realm of Words (in the vast valleys of our minds, we are able to visit it like Alice did when discovered Wonderland). At this moment, we are observing a linguistic battle between Mr. Paraphrase and Mrs. Quote. How do you think, who will win? Their task is to worm their way into a research paper and make it a seamless piece of work. If your thought was that Paraphrase has to win the battle, you were right. Well, elucidation awaits!
Dear writer or student, you must remember that paraphrasing is a significant skill that greatly contributes to the advancement of your critical and analytical thinking, as well as helps you to master creative writing. As I mentioned before, it is not simply about changing words, it is about experimenting with versatile choices and learning to select the most suitable ones. Although it’s hard to notice it at the beginning, your brain is becoming a wellhead of the figurative language you haven’t used in your vocabulary before. Moreover, when you thoroughly paraphrase the information, it means you have comprehended the main points of the material. It helps you investigate the matter more elaborately, delving into the essential scholarly approaches that will turn into your advantages in the future, especially if you decide to continue researching and publishing your articles in diverse scientific journals. Paraphrasing can be a witty trick to make you express your own thoughts on the topic in the process of writing. The details you paraphrase make your investigation relevant as you indicate the resources created by experts in a certain field, and, at the same time, they influence your own opinion and contribute to your future expertise.
All professionals were learners once who caught on to the models provided by other connoisseurs. Mere quoting will not teach you to express your voice and build sophisticated patterns of thinking yourself. Having said that, there are instances when quotes are integral. Sometimes, it is not efficacious to paraphrase an intricate quote satiated with scientific terms. You, as an inexperienced scholar, who only begins his ingenious path, may confuse the complicated notions and distort the intentions of the cited enquiry. There is also a phenomenon of “impeccable quotes”. Indeed, sometimes words used in the original are so perfectly amalgamated that you do not dare even to change their structure. Some authors cannot be surpassed, but you can also learn from them to become one. Thus, quotes should also appear in your paper, but it is wise to disperse them only in specific paragraphs. When writers overuse quotes, their works look unprofessional. It seems you didn’t know what to say and filled the piece with the direct speech of others to disguise the weakness of your opinions. Overquoting makes your paper poorly readable. On the contrary, when you paraphrase and cite every source, it becomes evident that you took notes and pondered on the well-beseeming material.
Paraphrasing can be Fun
I called this article “The Art of Paraphrasing” for a reason. When learning to paraphrase thoughts of others, you also acquire the ability to experiment with words, you discover all the wonderful shades of metaphors, and enrich your vocabulary drastically! This practice can help you become a linguist, and maybe even a professional writer. Joking apart, today you can immerse in paraphrasing other people’s written ideas, while tomorrow someone else will paraphrase your own crucial work.
The entire world we live in is paraphrasing itself at this very moment. We exist in the Paraphrase Matrix day by day. Does it mean that there are no implicitly original ideas? It makes sense, but creativity saves the situation. Plagiarism fighters are also on guard, ready to expose lazy paraphrasers. Meanwhile, the creative ones do not simply paraphrase, they cite their sources and draw inspiration from the greatest authors and researchers in order to become the intellectual elite themselves.