Nouns and their patterns in L2 student writing. Implications for the teaching of English for specific academic purposes (ESAP)

Christine Simone Sing

Publikation: Working/Discussion PaperWorking Paper/Preprint


This paper proposes a corpus analysis of the nominalization patterns in L2 student writing, focusing on semantic and cognitive functions such as characterization, encapsulation or reification. The findings have important implications for ESAP writing instruction, not only suggesting discipline-specific noun frequencies and uses, but also pedagogical corpus applications in the sense of Seidlhofer's (2002) learning-driven data. Previous research on nominalizations in academic English has predominantly focused on frequencies (Biber et al., 1999) and the discourse functions of 'signalling nouns' (Flowerdew, 2003) or 'shell nouns' (Schmid, 2000). The meaning of these nouns derives from the lexicalization in the immediate linguistic context (Hunston & Francis, 2000) while their frequency and use vary significantly between L1 to L2 writing (Aktas & Cortes, 2008). Shifting noun frequencies and uses cannot, however, be accounted for by the native vs. non-native variable alone, but largely depend on discipline-specific writing conventions. A case in point is the prevalence of nominalizations in the hard sciences vs. the soft sciences in which they tend to be underused (Swales, 1998). Therefore Jordan's (1997) distinction between English for general academic purposes (EGAP) and ESAP is vital for the analysis of nouns as a major class of vocabulary. Taking Coxhead & Nation's (2001) important categorization of vocabulary as its point of departure, the study at hand investigates the semantic prosody of nouns in a specialized corpus, addressing the interface between academic vocabulary and technical vocabulary.
PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - 2012

Österreichische Systematik der Wissenschaftszweige (ÖFOS)

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