Nominalizations

Nominalizations

For a printable copy, click here:  Nominalizations

Nominalization: a noun with a verb hiding in it. _________________________________________________________________________

Read the following passages.
 
a. Integrating all the existing islands of automation requires a structured approach with consideration of not just the physical problems associated with linking different computer-based technologies, but also the relative importance of these technologies to overall business strategy and the impact of their integration on the business environment. Bridging “islands” together for an effective integrated system and meeting the objective of maximum benefits at minimum cost require achievement of three benchmarks on the part of any integration program: identification of high-leverage technical processes, functions, and activities; maximum effectiveness in the use of other systems’ assets already in place or in development; full exploitation of opportunities for performance improvement through integration of islands of automation system elements.
 
b. Too precise a specification of information processing requirements incurs the risk of overestimation resulting in unused capacity or inefficient use of costly resources or of underestimation leading to ineffectiveness or other inefficiencies. Too little precision in specifying needed information processing capacity gives no guidance with respect to the means for the procurement of the needed resources. There may be an optimal degree of precision in providing the decision-maker with the flexibility to adapt to needs.
 
c. To obligate a corporation upon a contract to another party, it must be proven that the contract was its act, whether by corporate action, that of an authorized agent, or by adoption or ratification, and such ratification will be implied by the acquiescence or the acceptance of the benefits of such contract, it being essential to implied ratification that the acceptance be with knowledge of all pertinent facts.
 
Jot down a few words to describe how you feel after reading these passages:
 
 
What do you think is wrong with them?
 
 
 
_________________________________________________________________________

Many people say that the passages are hard to read because they have long sentences and passive verbs. Now they have shorter sentences, and all the verbs are active – but they’re not much easier to read.
 
d. Integrating all the existing islands of automation requires a structured approach. The approach must include consideration of not just the physical problems associated with linking different computer-based technologies, but also the relative importance of these technologies to overall business strategy and the impact of their integration on the business environment. Bridging “islands” together for an effective integrated system and meeting the objective of maximum benefits at minimum cost requires achievement of three benchmarks on the part of any integration program. There must be identification of high-leverage technical processes, functions, and activities; maximum effectiveness in the use of other systems’ assets already in place or in development; and full exploitation of opportunities for performance improvement through integration of islands of automation system elements.
 
e. Too precise a specification of information processing requirements incurs the risk of overestimation or underestimation. Overestimation results in unused capacity or inefficient use of costly resources; underestimation leads to ineffectiveness or other inefficiencies. Too little precision in specifying needed information processing capacity gives no guidance with respect to the means for the procurement of the needed resources. There may be an optimal degree of precision in providing the decision-maker with the flexibility to adapt to needs.
 
f. To obligate a corporation upon a contract to another party, the party must prove that the contract was its act, whether by corporate action, that of an authorized agent, or by adoption or ratification. A court will infer such ratification from the acquiescence or the acceptance of the benefits of such contract. It is essential to implied ratification that the acceptance be with knowledge of all pertinent facts.

In each of the following pairs of sentences, the first sentence is wordy because of heavy nominalization. The second sentence, a revision of the first, needs a strong verb to replace the empty verbs resulting from nominalizations. Fill in each blank with an appropriate word.

  1. Determination of policy occurs at the managerial level.

The manager _______________ policy.

  1. The discussion concerned a tax law.

We _______________ a tax law.

  1. The auditor has no expectation that it will meet the deadline.

The auditor does not _______________ it to meet the deadline.

  1. We conducted an investigation of it.

We _______________ it.

  1. There was considerable confusion of the laws from the case.

The case _______________ the laws considerably.

One sentence in each of these pairs is clear, expressing characters as subjects and actions as verbs; the other is indirect, with actions in nominalizations and characters often not in subjects.  First, identify which is which.  Then circle nominalizations and highlight verbs.  Also underline subjects.  Then put a “c” over characters that seem to perform actions. 

2a.   Smoking during pregnancy may cause fetal injury.

2b.   When we write concisely, readers understand easily.

4a.   Complaints by editorial writers about voter apathy rarely offer suggestions about dispelling it.

4b.   Although critics claim that children who watch a lot of television tend to become less able readers, no one has demonstrated that to be true.

6a.   We need to know which parts of our national forests are being logged most extensively so that we can save virgin strands at greatest risk.

6b.   There is a need for an analysis of library use to provide a reliable base for the projection of needed resources.

Exercise 3.5 

Now revise the nominalized sentences in Exercise 3.4 into sentences with verbs Use its paired verbal version as a model. For example, if the verbal sentence begins with when, begin your revision with when.

For example:

Sentence to revise: 2a. Smoking during pregnancy may lead to fetal injury.

Model: 2b. When we write concisely, readers understand more easily.

Your revision of 2a.  When pregnant women smoke . . . . 


Exercise 3.6  Revise these next sentences so that the nominalizations are verbs and characters are their subjects.  In (1) through (5), characters are italicized and nominalizations are boldfaced. 

2.     Attempts were made on the part of the president’s aides to assert his immunity from a Congressional subpoena.

4.     Your analysis of my report omits any data in support of your criticism of my findings.

6.     A papal appeal was made to the nations of the world for assistance to those facing the threat of African starvation.

8.     The agreement by the class on the reading list was on the assumption that there would be tests on only certain selections.

10.   An understanding as to the need for controls over drinking on campus was recognized by fraternities.

In 11 through 15, only the nominalizations are boldfaced; find or invent the characters and revise.

12.   Physical conditioning of the team is the responsibility of the coaching staff.

14.   The Dean’s rejection of our proposal was a disappointment but not a surprise because our expectation was that a decision had been made.

Exercise 3.7  Revise these sentences.  At the end of each is a hint.

For example:

Congress’s reduction of the deficit resulted in the decline of interest rates. [because]

a Interest rates DECLINED because Congress REDUCED the deficit.

2.   Precision in plotting the location of building foundations enhances the possibility of its accurate reconstruction. [When we precisely plot…]

4.   A student’s lack of socialization into a field may lead to writing problems because of his insufficient understanding about arguments by professionals in that field. 
[When. . . . . . . ., because.]

 

Exercise 4.1 

Before you revise these next sentences, diagnose them.  Look at the first six of seven words (ignore short introductory phrases).  Then revise so that each has a specific character as a subject of a specific verb.  To revise you may have to invent characters.  Use we, I, or any other word that seems appropriate. 

2.   Decisions about forcibly administering medication in an emergency room setting despite the inability of an irrational patient to provide legal consent is usually an on-scene medical decision.

4.   Resistance has been growing against building mental health facilities in residential areas because of a belief that the few examples of improper management are typical.

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