Degree Name

Master of Education (Hons.)


Faculty of Education


Despite the fact that the writing of abstracts is an integral part of tertiary study, not much information regarding the linguistic nature of abstracts is available to assist students. This thesis intends to identify the characteristic linguistic features and their functions in three selected abstracts in the discourse of science and technology, A set of three texts dealing with the field of English for science and technology have been selected for analysis. They have been analysed both at the text level or macro-level, clause and group level or micro-level, encompassing such aspects as schematic structure, Theme, cohesion. Transitivity, nominal group structure and nominalisations. The theoretical framework adopted for the text analysis is Systemic Functional Grammar. As the analysis at text level shows, these abstracts reflect the generic structure of their source articles. It also indicates that cohesion is effected primarily through cataphoric reference. There is not much ellipsis and substitution. Most of the conjunctions are implicit rather than explicit. The lexical cohesion is primarily limited to relations of meronymy or hyponymy. In terms of the language features at clause level, it was found that the Participants used in these abstracts are generic and metaphorical, and the Processes are mostly material and relational ones in the timeless present tense. The Themes are impersonal and experiential with few textual and marked themes. The analysis below clause level demonstrated a high frequency of lengthy nominal groups and nominalisations, whose function is to condense the meanings and to distance the reader and the writer. As a result of these long nominal groups and nominalisations, there is a corresponding high lexical density. Although the analysis of the abstracts has shown some of the linguistic characteristics of abstracts, there are obvious limitations to the study in terms of the number of the texts analysed, the range of fields and the variety of analyse. Further studies are needed to complement this analysis.



Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.