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Writing in your own words activity

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Exercise 2: Pick a paraphrase

Read through this second extract from Jamie Oliver's book, and make a choice on which is the best of two differently paraphrased versions of it.


One of the things I've noticed in Italy is how the quality of their salads can vary from one place to the next. Half of the time you'll probably get given rubbishy unwashed iceberg lettuce, with a little tray of condiments so you can dress your own salad, and the other half of the time their salads can be pure genius - above and beyond those of any other country in the world. In general, this is down to their ability to turn boring old carrot, celery, fennel bulb and pepper into a delicious salad just by cutting them into thin slices that are delicate and crunchy. The Italians are very clever people. Even unexpected things, like Jerusalem and globe artichokes, asparagus, baby courgettes, even butternut squash, are really palatable in a salad when finely sliced. But probably the most impressive thing is their use of stale bread - something you may not think of as a good salad ingredient!

[An extract from Jamie Oliver's book, Jamie's Italy]

Here are two different attempts at paraphrasing the extract. Both aim to reduce Jamie Oliver's argument to its essentials, but one does this rather more successfully than the other. Read through the two versions, and pick the one you think is the more successful attempt.

Paraphrase A

Although the quality of salads presented in Italy is variable, when they do it right, Italians can make some of the best salads in the world (Oliver, 2005, p.152). Jamie Oliver argues that they have a certain panache when it comes to their use of vegetables, taking vegetables that might otherwise be considered mundane and turning them into a successful salad merely by the way in which they are chopped. In fact, they are so good at making salads that they can even make a success of stale bread.

Correct answer for paraphrase A

This version is by far the most successful for the following reasons.

  1. It uses substantially different language from that used in the original.
  2. Although the structure of the argument is similar, the structure of individual sentences has been changed.
  3. Jamie Oliver is credited as the originator of the argument so it's quite clear that these are his ideas and not the authors.
  4. It focuses on the key argument (the way in which vegetables are chopped).
  5. It then conveys this argument in a fluent and effective manner.

Paraphrase B

In Italy the quality of salads varies. Sometimes they are unwashed and you have to dress your own salad. Other times the salads are wonderful: much better than salads of other counties. This is because the Italians know how to transform boring things like carrot, celery, fennel and pepper into interesting salad by cutting them finely. Thin slices make things like artichokes, asparagus, courgettes and squash work well in salads. They even use stale bread in salads.

Incorrect answer for paraphrase B

This version was less successful:

  1. Many of the words and phrases and a lot of the sentence structure are the same.
  2. Each step in the structure of the argument is repeated.
  3. It generally feels as if the authors are simply parroting the original and haven't fully understood the argument.
  4. There is little attempt to extract a core idea or argument from the original text and this suggests that the authors haven't really made the material their own or shaped it to address the assignment question.

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