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Part-to-whole relationships in text structure | Reading

The video teaches how smaller text sections work together to support a whole text, like a giant robot made of smaller robots. Well, a text is made up of other, smaller sections of text, which are in turn made up of paragraphs and sentences—and each smaller component serves the larger component to drive towards the main point of the text. Created by David Rheinstrom.

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Video transcript

- [David] Hello readers. Today we're going to be talking about how smaller sections of text work together to support the whole text. But first let us consider Voltron. It is a giant robot made up of five smaller robots, each one piloted by a person. Five friends, each with control over a different part of the robot's body. You're up in the head, I'm operating the right leg, our buddy's operating the left, and so on. In order to walk or pick up objects or fight space monsters the size of battleships, all the disparate of the robot have to function together. Well, texts work much the same way. Each portion of the text, from the section level down to more granular divisions like individual paragraphs or sentences, is trying to serve the broader point of the text. When we look at Voltron's foot in motion, we analyze what the foot is doing in the service of Voltron as a whole. If Voltron's foot kicks a ball, we have to zoom out to ask, is Voltron playing soccer? This is a pretty abstract idea without any text examples, so let's stop talking about space robots and start talking about the Armor of 10th-century Japanese horse archers. All right, so this whole passage is about the armor worn by mounted archer samurai of 10th-century Japan, o-yoroi, and how it's constructed. So this is a piece of o-yoroi armor. This is the whole assemblage. And that's how the piece is divided, right? We've got the sections here for each component. The cuirass, the o-sode or shoulder guards, the kusazuri, or armored skirt, and the kabuto, the helmet. And each one of these elements of the armor connects back to the whole point of the piece, which is describing how the armor does two things. One, it protects the wearer, and two, allows them to ride horses and fire arrows. Now we see this in the introductory paragraph. Their armor, called o-yoroi, was designed specifically to withstand the demands of mounted archer warfare. So let's dig into this first section about the cuirass, the breastplate and backplate armor. I'll read the first paragraph. "A cuirass is usually a piece of armor "that consists of a breastplate and a backplate "that are attached together. "The cuirass for the o-yoroi was a bit different "than a typical cuirass, "as it was designed to be more effective for an archer. "The o-yoroi cuirass had three sections instead of two. "A section to protect the back, "a section to protect the chest, "and a section to protect the left side body. "The right side was left open "so the warrior could best utilize his bow and arrow." So this paragraph is describing what a cuirass is and how it functions as armor, but then it goes into detailing how an o-yoroi cuirass is different because it's for someone holding a bow, right? It has three sections instead of two. The right side was left open so the warrior could best utilize his bow and arrow. This information down to the sentence level all serves the same purpose. It serves to answer the question, how was o-yoroi armor specifically designed to meet the needs of a mounted archer? Not every sentence or every paragraph will address every part of that main question. Note that the cuirass section doesn't cover anything about how the archers are on horseback. To answer that question, we need to go down to the third section, the kusazuri, the battle skirt. I'm not gonna read the whole paragraph. Let's just zoom in on this one sentence. "The kusazuri were designed so that when the warrior "was sitting in his horse's saddle, "they fit nicely over the saddle in a skirtlike fashion "to protect his lower body and upper legs." This particular sentence tells us how this part of the armor protects the samurai's legs while they're on horseback. The paragraph and section it's part of detail the whole construction of that part of the armor and how it relates to the other pieces. And all of those paragraphs together form one text that explained the thing it set out to explain. What is o-yoroi and how does it work for 10th-century horse archer samurai? Each section or paragraph is like a leg or an arm of Voltron. Each sentence is a muscle or a finger or a robo-toe. Together, moving as one, they tell a story or make an argument, which I guess is like Voltron winning a fight, maybe. I feel like I've carried this metaphor as far as it'll go. The point is, if you're having trouble making sense of an informational text, think of it as a giant battle robot. What is each of component part of the text trying to accomplish? And when you put all those parts together, what are they trying to do? Well, my work here is done. You can learn anything. David out.