Significant disagreements are often founded in debate over the meaning of terms. The term “wetland,” for instance, has a range of meanings, depending upon the context. The federal government alone has numerous, inconsistent definitions for a wetland depending on which agency is using (or enforcing) the term. Given the important policy implications, land developers and environmentalists routinely disagree about how, precisely, to define a wetland, just as they disagree about how to apply an existing definition to some particular piece of land.
Thus, definitions are tools for establishing the terms of a discussion. For this assignment, choose a term related a potential research topic. Investigate the term and present—in your own words—a meaningful extended definition of that term.
Define your audiences and purpose
In deciding upon a term, consider an appropriate audience and occasion. Here are two examples:
Try out various defining techniques
One practical way to begin is by exploring how various definitions function in your field, perhaps by collecting several distinct definitions of an important term and examining their differing contexts. You should start by developing the best language for establishing the genus and differentia. Your definition should then employ some of these standard defining tactics:
Try out these different techniques on your word and decide which ones generate the best content, given your audience. Then decide on the best order for the different types of definition. I encourage you to conduct research to help you provide a full definition of your term. However, do not include any sentences that begin, “According to Webster’s Dictionary …” or similar language.
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