Monday, March 29, 2010

Explanation Text

In this part of the text, you will learn how to:
    • Identify the structure of explanation texts;
    • Read and understand explanation texts;.

Explanation is a text which tells processes relating to forming of natural, social, scientific and cultural phenomena. Explanation text is to say 'why' and 'how' about the forming of the phenomena. It is often found in science, geography and history text books.

Generic structures of explanation text :
a.    General statement; stating the phenomenon issues which are to be explained.
b.    Sequenced explanation; stating series of steps which explain the phenomena.

Language features of explanation :
a.    Featuring generic participant
b.    Using chronological connection
c.    Using passive voice pattern
d.    Using simple present tense

The Difference Between Explanation and Procedure Text

Seeing the social function, both procedure and explanation texts have the similarity in which both of them describe how to make or do something. They give the detail descriptions on something, phenomena, goods, product, case or problem.
To see the differences between explanation and procedure, we have to analyze the dominant language features and how the texts are used.
Procedure is commonly called as an instruction text. It uses a pattern of command in building the structure. It uses the “to infinitive verb” which is omitted the “to” as well. It is mainly used to describe how to make something which is close to our daily activity. How to make a cup of tea, how to make a good kite, etc. are the best example of a procedure text.
On the other hand; explanation commonly uses the passive voice in building the text. It is used such as in  a scientific written material. It describes how certain phenomenon or event happens. How a tornado formed, how tsunami works are the best examples of explanation texts.
In conclusion, what makes superficially different is the way how they are structured. In one side, explanation text is formed in the mode of description. It focuses on the thing which is explained. In the other side, Procedure text is constructed in the mode of instruction and command. That is why Procedure is sometimes called instruction text. It focuses on the second person to explain how to form something.

Read and understand the following examples of explanation text!

Text 1
Why Summer Daylight is Longger than Winter Daylight?

In the summer, the amount of daylight that we get is more than we get in winter. This is not because as much people think we are closer to the sun but because of the tilt of the earth.
The earth is actually closer to the sun in winter than it is in summer but you would be forgiven for thinking that this can not be true after looking out of your window on a cold and frosty morning.
It seems strange that as the earth get closer to the sun during its orbit then the amount of daylight that we get decrease. But that is the case. It is the tilt of the earth that determine the amount of daylight that we get and so the length of time that for us the sun is above the horizon.

Generic Structure Analysis:
  • General statement; stating the phenomenon in which daylight in summer is longer than in winter.
  • Explanation; it is the tilt of the earth that determines the amount of daylight not the distance of the earth from the sun.
Language Feature Analysis:
  • Focusing generic participant; daylight.
  • Using chronological connection; then, so, but.
  • Using passive voice; you would be forgiven.
  • Using present tense; the earth is actually closer to the sun.
Text 2
How Chocolate is made?

Have we wondered how we get chocolate from? Well this time we will enter the amazing world of chocolate so we can understand exactly we are eating.
Chocolate starts a tree called cacao tree. This tree grows in equatorial regions, especially in place such as South America, Africa, and Indonesia. The cacao tree produces a fruit about the size of a small pine apple. In side the fruits are the tree's seeds. They are also known as coco beans.
Next, the beans are fermented for about a week, dried in the sun. After that they are shipped to the chocolate maker. The chocolate maker starts by roasting the beans to bring out the flavour. Different beans from different places have different qualities and flavour. So they are often shorted and blended to produce a distinctive mix.
The next process is winnowing. The roasted beans are winnowed to remove the meat nib of the cacao bean from its shell. Then the nibs are blended. The blended nibs are ground to make it a liquid. The liquid is called chocolate liquor. It tastes bitter.
All seeds contain some amount of fat and cacao beans are not different. However, cacao beans are half fat, which is why the ground nibs from liquid. It is pure bitter chocolate.

Generic structures of of the text above:
  • General statement; it is a statement which says about chocolate and how it is formed
  • Sequenced explanation; it is a series of explanation on how chocolate is formed before we eat. First, the chocolate is coming from the cacao tree. Then it is fermented and ship to the chocolate producer. The cacao bean then are roasted and winnowed.

Text 3
Why Eiffel Tower was Built?

If we talk about the Wonders of the World buildings, then we will see Eiffel Tower as one of them. However many of us do not know the tower’s past history on why it was build. Everything has the reasonable background, especially for the tower which is to be one of the most recognized buildings in the world.
Primarily, the Eiffel Tower was built for the World Exhibition. It was called Paris Exposition in 1889. The exhibition was organized to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution. The purpose of building Eiffel Tower in such structure was to show to the world France’s advancement of technology and beauty. The Eiffel Tower was designed by Gustave Eiffel. It seemed that then the name of the tower was derived from the designer’s last name, “Eiffel”
Another reason on why the tower was built was for scientific progress. Although few realized it, the Eiffel Tower would become the prominent structure in terms of science and technology. Many experiment with temperature, pressure and pendulums were performed atop the unique famous building. Additionally the Eiffel Tower was used for radio transmission tower. Many experiments were conducted atop the Eiffel Tower for radio transmission advancement. Once the Eiffel Tower was proposed to be demolished but it was spared because the tower had the promising future as a radio tower.

From the example of explanation text above, we see that it has the generic structure as follow:
  • General Statement; the introduction of the passage on why the Eiffel Tower was built.
  • Sequenced Explanation; this is the main element of explanation text. This explanation is explored to answer the “why” or “how” question introduced in the general statement. From the example above, the text was written to explain why, not how, the Eiffel Tower was built. Then it elaborates the reasons. First is for the show case and the second is for scientific and technological purposes.