see for further details

Nominal categories in native English and EFL argumentative writing. A corpus-based analysis

Paweł Scheffler (School of English, Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań)

English academic prose is characterized by a high density of nominal categories, for example nouns, nominalizations, attributive adjectives and prepositions. These features facilitate efficient integration of information in a text. In this paper we examine to what extent these characteristics are present in academic writing by native English students and advanced Polish students of English. The two corpora used in the study are grammatically tagged versions of the IFA-PICLE corpus of essays contributed by Poznań School of English (IFA) students, and part of the LOCNESS corpus of essays written by English and American secondary school and college students.

In both sets of texts we examine the noun-to-verb ratio, the frequencies of pronouns, nominalizations, premodifying nouns and adjectives, the distribution of –ing nouns and –ing participles, and the complexity of prepositional constructions. The results indicate that there are statistically significant differences between the two corpora and that native English academic essays are more informationally-focused than those written by Polish students. This has clear pedagogical implications for teachers of English academic writing and teachers of English grammar.

Aarts, J. and S. Granger. 1998. “Tag sequences in learner corpora: a key to interlanguage grammar and discourse.” In Granger, S. (ed.). 132-141.
Biber, D., S. Conrad and R. Reppen. 1998. Corpus Linguistics. Investigating Language Structure and Use. Cambridge: CUP.
Biber, D., S. Johansson, G. Leech, S. Conrad and E. Finegan. 1999. Longman Grammar of Spoken and Written English. London: Longman.
Granger, S. (ed.). 1998. Learner English on Computer. London: Longman.
Huddleston, R. and G. Pullum. 2002. The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language. Cambridge: CUP.
Quirk, R., Greenbaum, S., Leech, G., Svartvik, J. 1985. A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language. London: Longman.
Rayson, P. and R. Garside. 2000. “Comparing corpora using frequency profiling.” In proceedings of the workshop on comparing corpora, held in conjunction with the 38th annual meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics. Hong Kong, pp. 1-6.

The corpora used in the study can be accessed from: