Academic writing frequently uses nominalisations; that is, the
noun forms of verbs.
The process of nominalisation turns verbs (actions or events)
into nouns (things, concepts or people).
The text is now no longer describing actions: it is focused on objects
or concepts; for example:
We walked for charity.
The verb 'walked' has been nominalised
to the noun 'walk'
The charity walk .....
As you can see from the example above, when a verb is nominalised, it
becomes a concept rather than an action. As a consequence, the tone of
your writing will sound more abstract and also more formal; for example:
We walked for charity.
We raised money for the Leukemia Foundation.
The charity walk raised
money for the Leukemia Foundation.
Some more examples of nominalisation are provided below:
(the nouns formed as a result of nominalisation
are highlighted in one colour, while the verbs
they replace are highlighted in another colour text).
Crime was increasing rapidly and the police
were becoming concerned.
The rapid increase in crime was causing
concern among the police.
Germany invaded Poland in 1939. This was
the immediate cause of the Second World War breaking out.
Germany's invasion of Poland in 1939 was the
immediate cause of the outbreak of the Second World War.
These examples are adapted from: Perez, A. (Learning Skills Unit,
University of Melbourne) Academic Language.
Here is an extract from a biology report. Nominalisation has been used
frequently in this passage, creating a more academic, abstract tone. (The
nouns formed as a result of nominalisation of verb
phrases are highlighted.)
|Many Australian plant species produce seeds with fleshy appendages
called elaiosomes. It was hypothesised that elaiosomes are involved
in the dispersal of seeds by ants.
To test this hypothesis, the
removal of seeds with elaiosomes was
compared to seeds from which
the elaiosome had been removed and observations
were made to confirm
that the agents of seed removal were indeed ants.
It was found that
the removal of seeds with elaiosomes was
significantly greater than
those without elaiosomes. Observations of
the seed removal process
confirmed that ants were the only agents of seed removal.
The frequent use of nominalisation was one factor responsible for the
difference in formality between the model texts.
|The inequity in the distribution
of wealth in Australia
is yet another indicator of
Australia's lack of egalitarianism.
In1985, 20% of the Australian population
owned 72.2% of the wealth
with the top 50% owning 92.1% (Raskall, 1988: 287: ). Such a significant
skew in the distribution
of wealth indicates that, at least in terms
of economics, there is an established class system in Australia.
McGregor (1988) argues that Australian society can be categorised
into three levels: the Upper; Middle and Working classes. In addition,
it has been shown that most Australians continue to remain in the
class into which they were born (McGregor,1988: 156) despite
about the ease of social mobility
in Australian society (Fitzpatrick,
1994). The issue of class and its inherent inequity, however, is
further compounded by factors such as race and gender within and
across these class divisions.
The relative disadvantage of women with regard to their earnings
and levels of asset ownership indicates that within classes there
is further economic inequity based on gender.......
|Because only a few people have most of the money and power in
Australia, I conclude that it is not an equal society. Society has
an Upper, Middle and Lower class and I think that most people when
they are born into one class, end up staying in that class for their
whole lives. When all three classes are looked at more closely,
other things such as the differences between the sexes and people's
racial backgrounds also add to the unequal nature of Australian
Women earn less than men and own less than men. Why is this so?
Comments and questions should
be directed to Unilearning@uow.edu.au