ERIC Number: ED233570
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1975
Reference Count: 0
Simplicity and Complexity in Scientific Writing: A Computer Study of Engineering Textbooks.
McConochie, Jean Alice
The relative frequency and sentence level use of syntactic structures in comtemporary written scientific English was investigated. Two thousand sentences from 100 engineering textbooks were compared with sentences from American literary prose by means of a computer program. The results confirmed the hypothesis that engineering writing uses a smaller subset of the total inventory of grammatical constructions in English than does literary writing. Engineering writers make limited use of the grammatical options available to them, especially in the variety of sector-mix arrays, range and diversity of T-unit length measured in words, number of filled sectors per T-unit, and use of inserts. The typical engineering textbook sentence comprises one T-unit 18 words long with a subject, passive verb, and complement. Engineering writing is a simpler version of English than literary writing. Thus, engineering writing is probably easier for the foreign student of English to learn. (Author/RW)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the International Congress of Applied Linguistics (1975).