AN INVESTIGATION OF THE STRUCTURES OF THE ENGLISH NOMINAL GROUPS IN SELECTED FICTIONAL AND NON-FICTIONAL TEXTS
The nominal group is an important syntactic element for sentence formation and is used across languages by speakers of all ages. Despite this, more knowledge is still needed on its comprehensive structure and the possibility of structural similarities and dissimilarities that may exist among texts of different types. One hundred randomly sampled nominal groups from 12 different text types (six fictional, six non-fictional) were analysed using the Hallidayan experiential and logico-semantic grammatical models. Twenty-eight structural patterns were identified across texts, which were categorised into deictic-headed, numerative-headed, epithet-headed, classifier-headed, and “Thing”-only structures. The deictic-headed was the most productive and most frequently used, with 13 sub-structures identified. The “Thing”only category was the least productive and least used. There were structural patterns that cut across texts but there were also patterns that were peculiar to some texttypes. The use of SFG for analysis provided more insight into the understanding of the structure of nominal groups, and it clearly showed that every lexical element in the group structure has its syntactic and semantic role. The analysis further revealed that some text-types have tendencies for more frequent use of some structural elements than others. For example, editorials showed high frequencies of epithets and classifiers, textbooks showed high frequencies of qualifiers, religious texts showed low frequencies of epithets and classifiers, while poetry showed peculiarly low frequencies of qualifiers. An understanding of the structure and text-based structural variations of nominal groups can help in the correct use, analysis, and interpretation of nominal groups in English.