Grammatical metaphor: Nominalization Introduction to compression Conversing vs writing Let’s compare some spoken versions of the previous snippet to the original. In this example, highlight the nominal groups. This is a Highlighting exercise - please apply these tags to this snippet. That's right Not quite Nominal group The natives weren’t communicating very well, and the Europeans took over all their land and placed settlements everywhere. Example Writelike Hide Clear highlighting Hint Reveal Continue Again, ask yourself this question: does each nominal group refer to either things or people? Now highlight the nominal groups in the original snippet. Warning: this IS a trick question! Here’s a hint: sometimes nominal groups don’t have pointers. This is a Highlighting exercise - please apply these tags to this snippet. That's right Not quite Nominal group Communications between the tribes of the New World were slow, and news of the Europeans’ barbarities rarely overtook the rapid spread of new conquests and settlements. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee Dee Brown Hide Clear highlighting Hint Reveal Continue Now ask yourself that question again: does each nominal group refer to either things or people? The answer? The answer is NO! In this snippet the nominal groups refer to processes not things or people. Now to make one thing clear, there are people and things in this snippet: The tribes (a bunch of people) The New World (a big piece of land) News (a piece of information — you can’t touch it, but it’s still a thing) The Europeans (another bunch of people) Settlements (a bunch of houses) But all of these people and things are buried inside bigger nominal groups that don’t refer to things or people but instead refer to processes, which is not normal. Let’s take a closer look What does “communications between the tribes of the New World” refer to? It refers to tribes talking to one another, which is a process. What does “the Europeans’ barbarities” refer to? It refers to what the European settlers were doing, which was taking the land, destroying tribal settlements and killing lots of people. And that’s a process. (Okay okay… “News of the Europeans’ barbarities” does refer to a thing—the news, the information—but the embedded nominal group “the Europeans’ barbarities” still refers to a process—that’s the part we’re interested in.) What does “the rapid spread of new conquests and settlements” refer to? It refers to the process of rapidly conquering native tribes and establishing new settlements across the land. Three nominal groups in one snippet that all refer to processes instead of people or things? That’s no coincidence! Let’s investigate further.