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Grammatical metaphor: Nominalization

Introduction to compression


The snippet we’ve been looking at this whole lesson using a technique called nominalization.


It simply means taking a process or quality and talking about it as if it were a thing (by putting it into a nominal group—nominalizing it).


So Dee Brown’s snippet contains three nominalizations.

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.

Why use nominalisations?


Efficiency and control.


With nominalisations writers can talk about a lot of events very quickly because they can package them all into one big “thing”.  They can also be very precise about what they want to say about that thing.


Both of these are very important when you want to write about history and cover a lot of ground quickly or show relationships between lots of events. And they are important in scientific writing when you want to describe the relationship between complex processes.