Arab World English Journal (AWEJ) Volume 12. Number1  March 2021                                             Pp. 401 -420

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The Low Co-occurrence of Nominalization and Hedging in Scientific Papers Written by
Chinese EFL Learners

Xiao Liu
 College of Foreign Languages
Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics,
Nanjing, China


Received: 12/24/2020                         Accepted: 3/2/2021                Published: 3/24/2021


This article hypothesizes that one of the reasons for Chinese EFL learners’ rigid use of nominalization and insufficient use of hedging in academic writing can be attributed to the unclear understanding of the relationship between these two expressions. The aim of the research is to first prove and then explain the possible co-occurrence of nominalization and hedging in scientific papers, with the intention of deepening Chinese EFL learners’ understanding of the reasons for their possible co-occurrence. After a corpus-assisted statistical analysis of sixty abstracts selected from leading scientific journals written by native English speakers, it’s been found that there is indeed a tendency for nominalization and hedge to co-occur both at the textual-level and clause-level. Besides, a tentative analysis is conducted to explain the pattern of their co-occurrence. It has been observed that the number of nominalized expressions in clauses is inversely correlated with the probability degree of hedging, and the position of nominalization in the clause (theme or rheme) influences the generalization level of hedging. The research results could shed light on the pedagogic approach in improving Chinese EFL learners’ academic writing by making evident that the elusive Grammatical Metaphor competence could be enhanced by deepening the understanding of the inter-relationship between seemingly different in-congruent expressions like nominalization and hedges.
Keywords: Chinese EFL learners, co-occurrence, hedge, nominalization, Systemic Functional Linguistics

Cite as:  Liu, X. (2021). The Low Co-occurrence of Nominalization and Hedging in Scientific Papers Written by Chinese EFL Learners.
Arab World English Journal, 12 (1) 401-420.


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Received: 12/24/2020
Accepted: 3/2/2021
Published: 3/24/2021

Dr. Xiao Liu received her Ph.D. in linguistics from Lomonosov Moscow State University. She has been teaching at the College of Foreign Languages in Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics since 2016. Her primary research interests lie in metaphor, discourse analysis, and English for Academic Purposes. She was funded by the university to investigate EAP teaching for postgraduates.  ORCID iD: