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Grammatical metaphor: Nominalization

Introduction to compression

Inspecting verbal groups for clues

Let’s take another pass at this snippet and the conversational retellings, but this time let’s find all the verbal groups (including standalone verbs) and see what comes out of it.

The natives weren’t communicating very well, and the Europeans took over all their land and placed settlements everywhere.

Okay. Let’s think about this.


Verbal groups normally refer to processes. Do all the verbal groups refer to processes here?


What do you think?

Now highlight the verbal groups in this next example.

The native Americans didn’t talk to each other much, so when they found out what the Europeans were doing it was already too late, and the settlers and conquerors were already taking over their land.

Again, ask yourself this question: do all the verbal groups refer to processes?

Now highlight the verbal groups in the original snippet.


Careful: a process can be turned into a thing by simply adding a pointer. For instance, anger could be a verb or process, but the anger is a thing.

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.

Do the verbal groups refer to processes? Yes!


Hold on, if the verbal groups are doing what they normally do, why did we go through all this work to examine them?


Before we answer that, compare the verbal groups in the snippet vs the retellings. Are there any simple and obvious differences? 

What the verbal groups are telling us