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Temporal Function of Research Process Nominal Groups in the English Titles of Chinese Journal Articles

Alex Rath

Shih Hsin University

Abstract

Most studies of research article titles suggests that they informational, but some studies have shown the effect of cultural influences on title structure. However, the extent of the influence of culture on title text is not clear. An investigation of research process nominal groups in title text can help produce a better understanding of the influence of culture on academic discourse. The incorporation of research process nominal groups by L1 Chinese writers of English in research article titles is common. A corpus of 408 titles from 76 Taiwanese journals was parsed into groups based on nominal headwords, thereby resulting in 1776 nominal groups, 26% of which contained a research process term. The most frequently appearing headword, study, accounted for 16.6% of the research process nominal groups in the corpus. One explanation for this situation is that L1 Chinese writers of English titles use the term study because it realizes a temporal approach to narrative where the information unfolds more gradually than the informational style of L1 English writers. In addition, selected title constructions seem to be in contradiction to the rules primarily elaborated for native Anglo-American writers in manuals of style.

Keywords: nominal groups, research article titles, contrastive cross-cultural analysis, L1 Chinese writers, research writing.

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