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Synopsis or summary?
01-10-2012, 06:18 PM (This post was last modified: 01-10-2012 06:45 PM by [wcip]Angel.)
Post: #1
Synopsis or summary?
Hail all!

I am in need of help. I've googled my ass off, and I'm still confused.

My question: What is the difference between a summary and a synopsis.

My initial thought was that a summary is a condensed version of the plot in a movie or book, and that a synopsis was a short 'presentation' of what the book/movie is about; the kind of blurb you find on the back of a book or a dvd case.

I gave my students an assignment where one of the tasks was to write a film review for a movie. A few students summarised the entire movie when all I wanted was a brief "synopsis". Obviously, if you want people to watch a movie, you don't spoil the ending. They did.

In a film analysis, on the other hand a "summary" is needed.

When writing my feedback to the students who spoiled the ending of the movie, I researched the word "synopsis" only to find some very different ideas about what this word actually means.

Does anyone here know the difference between the two words? The stuff on the back of a book; is that a synopsis or a summary? Is it neither?

Thanks!

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01-12-2012, 09:39 AM
Post: #2
RE: Synopsis or summary?
I think the difference is largely one of context, and I don't think it is productive in this case to try to make that distinction. You had the right word in the first place with "review". But even then, I think there are different styles of critical review, some of which may assume the reader is already familiar with the material in question.
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01-12-2012, 09:57 AM
Post: #3
RE: Synopsis or summary?
I'm with Nystul - I think they're pretty much synonyms, and you have to distinguish what they mean by context. In the movie biz, "synopses" tend to be spoiler free, but that's a convention of the art, not an implication of the word they use.

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01-13-2012, 03:48 PM (This post was last modified: 01-13-2012 03:53 PM by kandrathe.)
Post: #4
RE: Synopsis or summary?
(01-10-2012 06:18 PM)[wcip]Angel Wrote:  Hail all!

I am in need of help. I've googled my ass off, and I'm still confused.

My question: What is the difference between a summary and a synopsis.

My initial thought was that a summary is a condensed version of the plot in a movie or book, and that a synopsis was a short 'presentation' of what the book/movie is about; the kind of blurb you find on the back of a book or a dvd case.

I gave my students an assignment where one of the tasks was to write a film review for a movie. A few students summarised the entire movie when all I wanted was a brief "synopsis". Obviously, if you want people to watch a movie, you don't spoil the ending. They did.

In a film analysis, on the other hand a "summary" is needed.

When writing my feedback to the students who spoiled the ending of the movie, I researched the word "synopsis" only to find some very different ideas about what this word actually means.

Does anyone here know the difference between the two words? The stuff on the back of a book; is that a synopsis or a summary? Is it neither?

Thanks!
To add to what has already been said...

Some additional intention can be ferreted out by researching the roots in their original language. Syn-Opsis is a Greek contraction of Syn meaning “with, in company with, together with", and Opsis meaning view.

Whereas "summary" is 1400–50; late Middle English from the Latin summārium, equivalent to summ ( a ) sum + -ārium -ary

From Latin -- summa is "the sum of" and arius is a suffix making the root word into an adjective (e.g. run + ing = running).

From this then - I'd say the difference is that "Synopsis" seems to imply opinion, whereas summary would be more opinion neutral (or optional).

"Can there be anything so important as to cry out that what we call romance, poetry, intellectual beauty, is the only signal that the supreme Enchanter, or some one in His councils, is speaking of what has been, and shall be again, in the consummation of time?" - William Butler Yeats, 1901, Magic - Ideas of Good and Evil.
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01-20-2012, 03:53 PM (This post was last modified: 01-20-2012 03:55 PM by Rudra.)
Post: #5
RE: Synopsis or summary?
Hey,

I always thought synopsis is a sort of collation. For example, you take two texts and organise them in two columns, so that you can compare the contents. If you click on the "prev" button in wikipedia's page history, it shows you a synopsis of two versions of one text.

If you look up "synoptic gospels" in wikipedia and scroll down to the last picture, you see an example of the comparative method called synopsis.

That's why it's called syn-opsis (together-vision) - you view two or more texts together. The greek word "opsis" does not have the meaning of "opinion"! It comes from the verb "horao", which means to look at / to see / to view.
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01-20-2012, 10:47 PM
Post: #6
RE: Synopsis or summary?
(01-20-2012 03:53 PM)Rudra Wrote:  The greek word "opsis" does not have the meaning of "opinion"! It comes from the verb "horao", which means to look at / to see / to view.
I was thinking view - point. Opinion was the word I used for point of view.

"Can there be anything so important as to cry out that what we call romance, poetry, intellectual beauty, is the only signal that the supreme Enchanter, or some one in His councils, is speaking of what has been, and shall be again, in the consummation of time?" - William Butler Yeats, 1901, Magic - Ideas of Good and Evil.
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