They Say, I Say, A Land So Strange, and Creolization in the Americas

Cathy Birkenstein and Gerald Graff, authors of They Say/ I say, propose that there most people who argue fall to 2 extremes: those who summarise too much- that they fail to give their own opinion about in a discussion, and those who summarise too little- giving only their opinion and no fact from the source material itself. Buissert summarizes intellectual opinions and sentiment on the use of the terms “creolization” and “assimilation” to describe the melding of cultures between multiple societies.

Buissert’s argument about Creolisation having been a significant phenomenon follows the directions of Cathy Birkenstein and Gerald Graff that a writer must give his readers enough information about his subject material to enable them to make a sufficiently informed judgement of their own- independent of the writers’ own opinion. Buissert plays “the believing game” very well- almost to a fault. He with great detail, describes and cites many striking examples of creolization taking place in the Americas- in Canada between the French and the indians, in Cuba between the Spanish and the natives, in America between the indians and the british, and in Cuba, and Mexico, between the Spanish and the natives. In each case, Buissert cites the various ways in which this creolization of cultures was observable- in the evolutions of architecture- in diet and in the cultures and languages people used to communicate.

He so clearly presents the original authors’ arguments as their own that in some parts, it is difficult to hear his own voice and opinions through his writing. Paradoxically, this setting your own view aside, is a characteristic of a well written, objective summary, however, Buissert’s own opinion should retain a subtle influence in his writing. It is a fine line, and for the most part, Buissert walks it well. While I find his argument persuasive, especially his concluding saying perhaps creolization extends beyond diet, architecture, and language, but into the flora and fauna, into the ecosystem and environment itself- I fail to clearly hear his authentic voice and opinions about creolization as a phenomenon between different cultures interacting. His argument and summarisation is very objective but lacking in its being so devoid of his own clearly put personal feelings.

Cathy Birkenstein and Gerald Graff, in They Say/ I say the writer needs to align their summarisation of a given piece of a writing, with their own opinions about it. They say the summarised ‘ “they say” needs to be in line with the writer’s “I say.” Buissert does this well to a limited extent in referencing the interactions between different cultures, but falling short in his inability to sufficiently explain his own opinions about the matter.

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