Casteling, T. (2013) The Logic of Nominal Groups. English Teaching in China, 2, 17 - 23.
It is widely accepted that written language is more lexically dense than spoken language, and this difference is even more pronounced in the case of academic texts, which are often characterised by the use of complex nominal groups (Halliday, 1993; Vande Kopple, 1994; Cullip, 2000; Fang, 2004). This study investigates the ability of a group of Chinese L1 speakers to make use of extended nominal groups in a written task which was similar to an academic data report. An analysis of the nominal groups composed by the subjects reveals that they had specific difficulties with post-modification, particularly in terms of word order. The relationship between their errors and L1 is investigated in more detail, and specific recommendations are made on how to raise learners’ awareness of these issues in the classroom.