9-10 October 2008 NATION AND LANGUAGE MODERN Third International Conference ASPECTS OF SOCIO-LINGUISTIC KTU Panevėžys Institute Centre of Languages DEVELOPMENT
THE SYSTEMIC-FUNCTIONAL APPROACH TO NOMINALIZATION IN
ENGLISH SCIENTIFIC DISCOURSE
Šiauliai University, Lithuania, e-mail: email@example.com
Abstract Nominalization is a powerful sociolinguistic marker which plays a crucial role in the construction of meanings in scientific discourse. The aim of the present paper is to investigate the functional potential (semantic and syntactic) of the verb-based nominalizations in English scientific discourse. The analysis is based on a corpus of selected texts drawn from economics, philosophy, religion, information technology, and history. The collected examples (approximately 1 200) were analyzed by employing descriptive, componential analysis and statistical methods. The theoretical foundations of this study are rooted in Systemic-Functional linguistics. Systemic-Functional theory views language as a tool people use to accomplish their communicative purposes by the means of expressing meanings in context. The analysis proved that the nominalizations functioned either as inherent or non-inherent participants or circumstances. Being a form of condensation of information, nominalization is a very economical means of packing information and is consequently frequently used in scientific discourse. To sum up, the results of the research contribute to the optimization of the scientific text.
Keywords: nominalization, Systemic-Functional linguistics, participant, proposition, inherent, non-inherent.
(adapt – adaptation), -ing (speak – speaking), -ment Introduction
(develop – development), -sis (analyze – analysis), -ure Language is a core to social interactions, affecting (depart – departure), -th (grow – growth), zero them and at the same time being affected by them. suffixation (answer – answer) and other cases (choose – Sociolinguistics analyzes a variety of diverse ways in choice). which language and society interplay, i.e. sociolinguistics The aim of the present paper is twofold: to is the study of language in social framework. Research in investigate the functional potential of the mentioned this concentration includes such area as discourse nominalizations and to present the nominalizations as a analysis, because language users need sociocultural micro-structural element of the scientific discourse. To competence and performance to understand and produce achieve the aim, I undertook to examine: 1) the meaningful text. relationship between nominalization and proposition; 2) Nominalization as a powerful sociolinguistic the semantic and syntactic functions of the marker plays a crucial role in the construction of nominalizations. To achieve the said objectives, the meanings in scientific discourse. In linguistics, the notion collected examples were analysed by employing of nominalization refers to the derivation of a verb, an descriptive, componential analysis and statistical methods. adjective, and a noun into a noun (e.g. develop – By means of the descriptive method, the nominalizations development, beauty – beautiful, king – kingdom), with or were revealed, classified and described. Then the without morphological transformation, so that the word distinctions of these elements were established, i.e. can now act as a head of a nominal phrase. The present differences and similarities, and the relationship between study is based on functional peculiarities of verb-based them, including their distribution. Similar to all lexical nominalizations (nomina actionis) in English scientific elements, the proposition can be viewed as consisting of discourse. It is hoped that investigation of such discourse semantic elements, or components, such as Processes, will contribute to a better understanding of the role of Participants and Circumstances. The use of nominalizations in the genre, which, in its own turn, componential analysis makes it possible to establish the contribute to a deeper understanding of the register itself meanings of the proposition which is constituted by within the sociolinguistic issues. Nominalizations derived respective semantic elements. The statistical method was from adjectives and nouns – for reasons of space used to reveal the incidence of the features of the limitations – are not subjected to consideration. nominalizations revealed by the analysis: descriptive In the process of nominalization, the finite verb is statistics were used to summarize the features of a turned into the corresponding verbal noun. The frequency distribution for some characteristics, abundance of nominalizing suffixes points to the viability comparative statistics were used to split the occurrences of the process, e.g. –age (use – usage), -al (arrive – of nominalizations into two or more sets, and report the arrival), -(e)ry (deliver – delivery), -ion/sion/-tion/-ation
significant variables between these sets. The corpus under congruent (i.e. expressed by a nominalized form of the investigation consists of selected texts, including verb). The use of one or the other mode is determined by approximately 1 200 nominalizations, drawn from pragmatic factors and language economy requirements: different scientific texts – economics, philosophy, the speaker, or writer, depending on his intentions or religion, information technology, philosophy, and history. goals, in referring to a situation, can use either the The theoretical foundations of this study are rooted in congruent form of the process or the non-congruent. Systemic-Functional linguistics. Systemic-Functional Propositions used non-congruently lose much of their approach views language as a social resource people use verbal quality: joining the ranks of nouns, they are not in to achieve their purposes by expressing meanings in a position to express categories which refer the situation context. Language exists and it must be studied in to the context.
contexts such as professional settings, classroom The text, similar to the sentence, is endowed with language, etc. two types of structure: deep (semantic) and surface
The Systemic-Functional theory was developed by (syntactic). At the deep level, nominalizations are Halliday (1985). Systemic-Functional grammar is one of represented as respective propositions; at the surface level, several functional theories in the current linguistics which the propositions they derive from may be realized or may conceives text as social interaction. Its most basic not be realized. Thus the nominalization has two layers –
assumption is that a human perceives reality through a semantic and syntactic.
mediating set of fundamental conceptual categories, Nominalizations are a feature of written English, which are mirrored in the lexico-grammatical constructs particularly a feature of scientific English. In the of a language. To cite Van Valin and LaPola (2002:86), scientific discourse, nominalization as a process is used to “language is a perfect mirror of reality, be in the real “create technical taxonomies; it helps the writer to relate world or a fictional one”. one process to another and thus create chains of
reasoning” (Halliday, 1988:195). Last but not least,
nominalization contributes to language economy. Theoretical prerequisites
Language is a flexible system: it is capable of Results and Discussion adjusting to the needs of communication by participating
in various transpositional processes. One such process is As already indicated, a proposition functions as a nominalization whose importance was observed by such device for describing a situation. The semantic linguists as Jespersen (1935), Chomsky (1957), Lakoff framework for a situation typically consists of three (1970), etc. long ago. But it was only after the publication components: processes, participants, and circumstances. of Lees‟ The Grammar of English Nominalizations (1960) The process covers the central part of a situation. To cite that the study of nominalizations came into its own. Lees Givón (1984:85-86), “the characterization of predicate was the first linguist who had made an attempt to types („verb types‟) is made in terms of the „frame‟ of systematically relate nominalizations to their source case-roles that obligatorily participate in events/states sentences. Unfortunately, owing to Bloomfield‟s coded by these predicates. And conversely, the conception of language, which was dominating then, characterization of various semantic case-roles must be scholars investigating nominalizations could not gain a made in terms of the predicate-types with which they deeper insight into the process of nominalization by form propositions”.
treating nominalizations as transforms of propositions. To Elements of propositions (semantic functions) are do it they needed an appropriate mechanism which was to realized morphologically as members of word-classes come into existence much later. (nouns, adjectives, verbs, and adverbs) together with their
Fresh impetus to the study of nominalization was appropriate specifications and syntactically as sentence given in the 1980s by Halliday (1985) and his followers constituents. Consider: Mother is baking a pie, where the
(Martin, 1992; Lock, 1996, Thompson, 1997; Downing Agent (mother) is the Subject; the Process (is baking) is
and Locke, 1992, Eggins, 1994; Valeika, 1998, 2001) the Predicate and the Effected (a pie) is the Objective
who treated nominalizations as one type of grammatical Complement; Peter watched his mother baking a pie,
metaphor. where the proposition Mother is baking a pie is part of
Language is a means of communication. The the sentence – the Complex Objective Complement; The
content of the communication is a situation. A situation baking of a pie took half an hour, where the same
does not refer directly to an extralinguistic reality which proposition functions as the Subject.
exists in the real world, but rather to the speaker‟s Participants involved in the propositional frame conceptualization of it. The components of this (i.e. „semantic grid‟) are entities, (i.e. things that have conceptualization of reality are semantic functions, or definite, individual existence in reality or in the mind). roles: processes, participants, circumstances. Of all the Such participants have a number of labels in semantics, components of a situation, the most important is the such as deep semantic cases (Fillmore, 1968), participant Process; the remaining components are either roles (Allan, 1986), thematic relations (Jackendoff, 1972), participants in the situation or play other, auxiliary, roles: and thematic roles (Dowty, 1991). The number and they characterize the participants. The said components character of semantic functions vary. Some linguists constitute the semantic structure of the sentence. distinguish from 5 to 13 (Dik, 1980; Saeed, 2000; Van
Propositions exist in two modes: congruent (i.e. Valin and LaPola 2002), others to 25 (Downing and expressed by the finite form of the verb) and non-Locke, 1992; Gerot and Wignell, 1994). Dowty (1991)
proposes that we view the semantic functions as discrete Not all propositions have a participant which and bounded categories but instead as prototypes, where carries out the process by means of its own energy there may be different degrees of membership. (intentionally or not intentionally). Thus Effector is the
The pivot of a sentence is the process. In the doer of an action, which may or may not be willful or congruent form (i.e. a clause not including any purposeful. For instance:
nominalizations), the process is mapped onto the But if even a few firms in an industry were Predicate. But when it is nominalized (i.e. when it is unwilling to cooperate, the pool arrangements collapsed
turned into a participant) it may perform other semantic (Brinkley, 1997:494).
and syntactic functions. As noted by Lester (1971:24), In the surface structure of the sentence the Effector
“The nominalization process produces a variety of functioned as Subject.
surface forms with the same underlying meaning”. To There is a clear boundary between something that paraphrase the citation, the process of nominalization goes on in the external world and something that goes on produces a variety of participants having the same in the internal world of the mind. Experiencer is the
meaning as the underlying verb. The occurrence of a participant, who (or metaphorically speaking which) nominalization greatly increases the general volume of perceives, knows, likes, etc. To put in broader terms, information the clause or the sentence expresses: the Experiencer is a sentient being that experiences internal greater the number of included nominalizations, the states, such as perceivers, cognizers and emoters. greater the volume of the information expressed by the Consider:
sentence. But the expectations of businessmen concerning
Understanding the text involves the understanding what a commodity will cost to produce in the future, and of the semantic and syntactic structure of the sentences what its future price will be, will determine how much of
making up the text. As a rule, there is no complete one-it will be made (Hazlitt, 1979:106).
to-one correspondence between the surface (syntactic) Similar to Effectors, Experiencers functioned as
structure and the semantic structure of the same clause. In Subjects in the surface structure of the sentence. other words, one and the same situation may have When the process was extended to the Patient, the
different syntactic realizations in the surface structure. representation was made in two forms, either active, in This also suggests that one and the same semantic which the Agent was realized as the Subject and the
function will be realized by different syntactic functions. Patient as the Direct Objective Complement, or passive,
Syntactic analysis is inseparable from semantic analysis: in which the Patient was realized as the Subject and the
they are interdependent. Thus in the present investigation Agent as the Indirect Objective Complement. Consider,
the emphasis was placed on the semantic functions vis-à-respectively:
vis the syntactic functions. Condemnation may of course be totally justified,
As already indicated, the semantic functions but more often than not they are attended with some (participants) vary. The semantic functions distinguished distortion<…>. (Taylor, 2002:21).
in the present study were drawn from Van Vallin and The utopia which filled people’s imagination at
LaPola (2002). They pointed out the commonly used the end of the Second World War did not involve participant roles in states of affairs (phenomena in the everybody speaking only English and drinking only Coca-world): Agent, Effector, Experiencer, Instrument, Force, Cola, <…>. (Rorty, 1999:230).
Patient, Theme, Benefactive, Recipient, Goal, Source, As it is seen from the examples above, the Location, and Path. Processes (verbs) typically code the nominalizations condemnation and people’s imagination
type of phenomenon and the nominalizations denote the are things that are in a state or condition, or undergo a participants therein. change of state or condition.
Agent is a willful, purposeful instigator of an Nominalizations also functioned as Benefactives,
action or event. Agents typically functioned as Subjects which are the optional participants denoting a person (or and Indirect Objective Complements in the sentence. a thing) for whom some service is done. In the corpus, the Consider, respectively: Benefactive was realized as the Indirect Objective
Around the turn of the century, the construction of Complement. Consider:
central power stations in cities brought the operating Germany supported Austria-Hungary’s decision
benefits of electric power to small, urban manufacturers to launch a punitive assault on Serbia (Brinkley,
such as apparel makers and printers (Carr, 2004:23). 1999:634).
In 1529 King Henry VIII, angered by the refusal The nominalized participant Austria-Hungary’s
of the pope to grant him a divorce from his Spanish wife, decision is the one for whose benefit some action is broke England’s ties with the catholic Church and performed.
established himself as the head of the Christian faith in Furthermore, the process can be associated with a his country (Brinkley, 1997:21). participant which receives the „goods‟. Such a participant
Nominalizations functioning as Agents were is called the Recipient, which was typically realized in the relatively uncommon in the corpus. Semantically, such surface structure as the Indirect Objective Complement.
nominalizations were External Causers as they possessed Consider:
the features of effectiveness and force. They lacked the Pragmatists reply to seventeenth-century
features of volition and initiative, features that are arguments about the veil of appearances by saying that characteristic of animate Agents. we need not model knowledge on vision (Rorty, 1999:50).
Source is the point of origin or some kind of Instrument and Force, though theoretically plausible, phenomenon. The Source expresses removal from a were not found in the corpus under investigation. location. Removal, in its turn, implies the existence of
another location: an entity moves from a location (the Table 1 Source) to a location (the Goal). Syntactically, the Source The semantic activeness of the nominalizations functions as the Adverbial Adjunct of Place and Time. Raw For example: frequency Coverage As the 1990s unfolded, corporate Web sites and Functions in the (%) intranets proliferated, more and more commercial corpus transactions began to be carried out-on-line, and Patient 450 38% software makers created sophisticated new programs for Location 300 25% managing everything from the procurement of supplies Agent 150 12% to the distribution of products to marketing and sales Experiencer 100 8% (Carr, 2004:3). Source 80 7% Location is a place or a spatial locus of some kind Benefactive 50 4% of phenomenon. Location is restricted to spatial functions. Recipient 40 3% As noted by Valeika (2001:38), “Space and time may be
Path 20 2% viewed as synonymous notions, time being a kind of
Effector 10 1% space”. The functions of Location were marked by the
prepositions at, by, near, on, etc. in the surface structure Theme 0 0%
of the sentence. For example: Instrument 0 0%
Alongside the celebrations of competition, the Force 0 0%
justifications for great wealth and the legitimization of
the existing order stood a group of alternative Table 2 below summarizes the statistical philosophies, challenging the corporate ethos and at information of syntactic functions of the nominalizations:
times capitalism itself (Brinkley, 1997:497).
It thereby gets rid of the idea that socio-political Table 2 institutions need to be ‘based’ on some such outside The syntactic activeness of the nominalizations foundation (Rorty, 1999:119). Raw For the next thirty years, the specter of anarchism frequency Coverage remained one of the most frightening concepts in Functions in the (%) American imagination (Brinkley, 1997:505). corpus In the corpus examined, the Location Direct 600 nominalizations functioned as Adverbial Adjuncts of Objective 50% Time and Place. Complement The main function of Path is to indicate a route. Adverbial 400 This function was marked by the preposition through. For Adjunct of example: 33% Place and And Benjamin, who continues about the same Time ratio of spending to saving, not only provides more jobs Subject 150 13% than ever, because his income, through investment, has
Indirect 50 grown, but through his investment he has helped to
Objective 4% provide better-paying and more productive jobs (Hazlitt,
This list is not exhaustive, however, it introduces
As can be seen from the table above, the most the notions most relevant to scientific discourse. While
frequent syntactic function was the Direct Objective analyzing the corpus, it was observed that participant
Complement. The least frequent syntactic function was roles are derived by analyzing the phenomena of the
the Indirect Objective Complement. world. In scientific discourse, writers construct sentences which depict the phenomena of the world in an
Conclusions economical and cohesive way.
The analysis of the corpus showed that inherent In the present paper, an attempt was made to (Agent, Effector, Experiencer, Patient, Recipient) and examine verb-based nominalizations within the non-inherent (Benefactive, Source Location, Path) framework of Systemic-Functional linguistics illustrating participants had a varying incidence. The semantic and them with the examples drawn from the written sources syntactic functions of the nominalizations were of the applied humanities and social sciences. It stands to determined by the semantic type of the process (verb). reason that nominalizations abound in scientific discourse The relative frequency of the semantic functions of the and make it difficult to grasp and conceive. This work is nominalizations can be seen in the table 1. a systemic analysis of nominalizations used in English As can be seen from the table 1, the most frequent scientific discourse. Such results would generally function was that of Patient. The least frequent was the contribute to a better understanding of the role of Effector. The nominalizations functioning as Theme,
nominalizations in speech in general. By means of the and the teaching of reading (interpretation) scientific texts. systemic account of nominalizations it is possible to To sum up, the results of the present research contribute examine them semantically and at the same time to the optimization of the scientific text.
syntactically. Such studies contribute to the development
of literary process (the process of writing scientific texts)
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SISTEMINIS-FUNKCINIS POŽIŪRIS Į NOMINALIZACIJAS ANGLŲ KALBOS MOKSLINIAME DISKURSE
Sociolingvistika analizuoja kalbos ir visuomenės tarpusavio sąveikos būdus. Su šios srities tyrimais siejama ir diskurso analizė. Kuriant reikšmes moksliniame diskurse yra svarbi nominalizacija, kuriai priskiriamas sociolingvistinio veiksnio vaidmuo.
Šio darbo tikslas – išanalizuoti veiksmažodinių nominalizacijų funkcinį potencialą. Naujas požiūris į nominalizacijas pateikiamas remiantis sisteminės-funkcinės lingvistikos teiginiais. Straipsnyje analizuojama empirinė medžiaga rinkta iš istorijos, filosofijos, ekonomikos, religijos, informacinių technologijų mokslinių monografijų. Sukaupta ir išanalizuota 1 200 pavyzdžių. Darbo tyrimo metodika kompleksinė: empirinė medžiaga analizuojama pasitelkiant aprašomąjį, komponentinės analizės ir statistinį metodus. Paaiškėjo, kad nominalizacijos vaidina svarbų vaidmenį moksliniame diskurse: jos neišplečia teksto, tačiau gerokai padidina
informacijos apimtį. Į propoziciją-matricą įterptos nominalizacijos atlieka dalyvių funkcijas: agento, patiento, lokatyvo, ir t.t. Dalyviai, siejami su propozicija, yra esybės, t.y. objektai, kurie egzistuoja realybėje arba mintyse. Išanalizavus pavyzdžius galima
daryti išvadą, kad dalyvių semantinės funkcijos yra dviejų kategorijų: inherentinės (esminės) ir neinherentinės (neesminės). Konstatuota, kad semantinės ir sintaksinės nominalizacijų funkcijos skiriasi vartojimo dažniu. Toks požiūris į nominalizacijas
leidžia informaciją pateikti objektyviai, aiškiai ir ekonomiškai, palengvina mokslinio teksto suvokimą.
The article has been reviewed.
Received in June, 2008.