Here at E2, we are told not to copy and paste writeups and to give credit where credit is due by quoting statements and phrases which are not our own. I know that I sometimes have trouble paraphrasing because after I read something and then try to paraphrase it (by attempting to summarize what I have just read in my own words, without looking at the original), my "paraphrase" ends up looking an awful lot like the original.
An English teacher of mine from high school had a solution to this problem. After attempting to paraphrase, go back and compare your paraphrase with the original. If you used three or more consecutive words directly from the original source, quote them. I found this method very helpful in preventing unintentional plagarism.

Another way of looking at compression

Lossy compression and paraphrase both work on the principle of converting expression to ideas and then back to expression. Here are some examples to demonstrate their similarity:

  • MP3: convert expression (waveform samples) to ideas (frequency intensities) back to expression.
  • JPEG: convert expression (blocks of pixels) to ideas (intensities) back to expression.
  • MIDI: convert expression (waveform samples) to ideas (notes) back to expression.
  • OCR: convert expression (pixels) to ideas (characters and glyphs) back to expression.

  • Paraphrase: convert expression (text) to ideas (facts) back to expression. This is the basic premise of node what you don't know, research papers, and language translation.
  • Reverse engineering: convert expression (hardware or software) to ideas (algorithms and interfaces) back to expression.
  • Fanfiction: convert expression (a story) to ideas (character traits) back to expression.

Copyright law forbids copying of expression without permission of the copyright owner. The derivative works clause prohibits paraphrase in cases where too much expression survives the paraphrase; only a judge can draw the line between idea and expression.

Par"a*phrase (?), n. [L. paraphrasis, Gr. , from to say the same thing in other words; beside + to speak: cf. F. paraphrase. See Para-, and Phrase.]

A restatement of a text, passage, or work, expressing the meaning of the original in another form, generally for the sake of its clearer and fuller exposition; a setting forth the signification of a text in other and ampler terms; a free translation or rendering; -- opposed to metaphrase.

In paraphrase, or translation with latitude, the author's words are not so strictly followed as his sense. Dryden.

Excellent paraphrases of the Psalms of David. I. Disraeli.

His sermons a living paraphrase upon his practice. Sowth.

The Targums are also called the Chaldaic or Aramaic Paraphrases. Shipley.


© Webster 1913.

Par"a*phrase, v. t. [imp. & p. p. Paraphrased (?); p. pr. & vb. n. Paraphrasing (?).]

To express, interpret, or translate with latitude; to give the meaning of a passage in other language.

We are put to construe and paraphrase our own words. Bp. Stillingfleet.


© Webster 1913.

Par"a*phrase, v. i.

To make a paraphrase.


© Webster 1913.

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