Exploring nominalization in scientific textbooks: A cross-disciplinary study of hard and soft sciences

  • Alireza Jalilifar Shahid Chamran University of Ahvaz
  • Peter White University of New South Wales
  • N. Malekizadeh Shahid Chamran University of Ahvaz
Keywords: Nominalization, scientific discourse, systemic functional linguistics, Physics, Applied Linguistics


Given the importance of disciplinary specificity in terms of the potential differences in the functionality of nominalizations in scientific textbooks and the dearth of studies of this type, the current study explores the extent to which nominalization is realized across two disciplines. To this aim, eight academic textbooks from Physics and Applied Linguistics are analyzed to identify the nominal patterns and expressions and their related types. Findings indicate that, despite the similarity of the first three most prevalent patterns in the sample textbooks, the distribution of these patterns marks disciplinary distinctions. That is, Physics academic writers tend to (a) use a more complex, lexically dense style of writing and package more information into compound nominal phrases by deploying a pattern where nominals are followed by strings of prepositional phrases in comparison to writers in Applied Linguistics; and (b) express particularity using nominals preceded by classifiers more frequently than Applied Linguistics writers. Writers in Applied Linguistics, on the other hand, are found to manifest a greater tendency toward conveying generality by using a pattern where nominals are realized with few pre/post modifiers.

Author Biography

Alireza Jalilifar, Shahid Chamran University of Ahvaz

Alireza Jalilifar is associate professor of Applied Linguistics at Shahid Chamran University of Ahvaz, Iran. He has published many papers in local and international journals. He was among the ten leading professionals of the world 2011 by the Research and Educational Department of the International Biographical Center (IBC), England. His main interests are genre analysis, and academic discourse.


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How to Cite
Jalilifar, A., White, P., & Malekizadeh, N. (2017). Exploring nominalization in scientific textbooks: A cross-disciplinary study of hard and soft sciences. International Journal of English Studies, 17(2), 1-20. https://doi.org/10.6018/ijes/2017/2/272781