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Nominalisation in history and social science writing

Introduction to compression

Introduction

With lexical metaphor we compress more information into a statement by using words from a different context. (“I burned for revenge.”)

There’s another kind of metaphor, though, called grammatical metaphor.

Honestly, grammatical metaphor is really hard to explain, it's another way of compressing information, and you find it a lot in history and science texts.

One way we do this is though a technique called nominalisation, where we treat events like things.

Here's a snippet with three examples of nominalisation. Can you find them?

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 KneeDee BrownSource link

If you're confused, that's good. This is a big topic. Let's get to work.