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3 Comments

  • You say under the first point that nominalisation “enables two clauses to be combined into one”.
    I agree that nominalisation often results in fewer clauses, but I don’t think that its purpose is to “enable two clauses to be combined into one”. Combining two clauses is not an end it itself, nor something that writers routinely want to do. Surely it is rather a question of information structure – given or shared information versus new information. The two ‘versions’ i)‘”The prediction of the Higgs boson in 1962” and ii)The Higgs boson was predicted in 1962” are very different.

    Version i) presents “the prediction of the Higgs boson in 1962″” as known information, shared between writer and reader. The noun ‘prediction’ encapsulates this information and then projects forward to the new point, which is that it “inspired a hunt”… etc. Version ii), on the other hand, presents the whole proposition as new; it informs the reader of the background, and thus requires a Subject-Verb structure of its own – the two main clauses are making two different points as opposed to one. Version i) happens to be shorter, but economy is a by-product of its different message. Surely this is not simply an open choice between a brief and a wordy version.

  • Thanks, Gill. Good point.
    I don’t think version 1 necessarily presents the “discovery” as already known to the reader, but it certainly does topicalise it, and I agree that that’s the primary reason for it.