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Language Analysis Paper

To be an excellent researcher of a specific discipline, graduate student should not

only know how to construct a paper well, but also should learn more about common

language and grammar choices as well as how to organize the most appropriate

structure of sentence. Thus, I will analyze a journal article of Civil Engineering

Changes to Bridge Flood Risk under Climate Change - by analyzing the language

features presented in the handout of Swales and Feak [1] [2].

First, in this article, there is no I or we used from abstract to conclusion and

acknowledgement [1] [2]. In this co-authored paper, when the authors want to state

something, they always use the language This study [1] [2]. For example, in the

abstract and introduction, there are many sentences started with This study

examines, This study specifically looks at and In this study [1]. In fields

of Engineering, it is common to use words like these rather than I or we, which is

also pointed out by Swales and Feak in their book [2]. Through choosing the language

as This study or This paper, authors can express the objectivity and preciseness to


Second, the authors wrote this paper without any forms of etc. or and so on

[1] [2]. When there is necessity to explain some conceptions by some examples, they

listed enough examples as much as possible with saying However, the potential

effectsuch as proximity to water, topography, soil moisture conditions, and wind

speed [1]. Because using vague expressions are imprecise that require readers to fill
in the missing information, it is not an academic expression to use vague

expressions, especially in the field of Engineering [2]. However, if the paper is only

read by people inside the same discipline, that might be acceptable because they are

familiar with the research and would be easily to fill in the missing information. But

for the people who are outside the discipline, that will bring much confusion. In my

opinion, it is more academic to avoid vague expressions and use specific and precise

language for graduate students writing papers.

Third, in this paper there is no expression addressing the reader as you [1] [2].

On the contrary, the authors used the passive voice all the time [1]. Because there are

many tables and graphs in this paper, they stated such information all in academic

language as The climate models used in this study are listed in Table 1 or These

crossings are indicated by various symbols in Fig. 1 [1]. Same as I and we, it is

not academic enough to express the objectivity and preciseness to readers. Thus, in

the field of Engineering, especially the field of Civil Engineering, the passive voice is

a proper way to avoid addressing the reader as you, which is also a practical writing

skills for graduate students.

The fourth language feature of this article is that there are no direct questions [1]

[2]. Every time when there is an argument or research question, the authors used

indirect questions, such as This study examines how [1]. According to the

opinion in Swales and Feaks book, indirect questions are likely more common in the

engineering discipline [2]. As well, from my experience of my field, I seldom read an

academic paper with direct questions that may often occur in text books which is a

very useful way to draw readers attention. However, as a graduate student, who is
still a beginner in academic writing, it is important for us to use the language with

objectivity and preciseness.

Fifth, adverb placement in this article is an interesting language feature to

analyze [1] [2]. In some contexts, adverbs may occur at the beginning or the end of

sentences when the author want to emphasize the adverbs [1] [2]. However, in this

article, many adverbs are placed in mid-position of sentences, just next to the verb [1]

[2]. For instance, Bridge designs are commonly based on [1]. In this

circumstance, the authors want to emphasize the relationship of verb and adverb.

Particularly in some examples, adverbs are placed between to and the infinitive,

though it is widely accepted that split infinitives are not so common [1] [2]. But for

the better expression to show the where should be emphasized, many researchers

decide to place the adverb inside the infinitives to avoid awkwardness and ambiguity

[2]. Especially in field of Engineering, we should consider more about the placement

of adverbs so that the sentence can express the information in accurate language.

The last language feature in this article is that there are so many sentences in the

passive voice [1] [2]. For example, Urbanization has long been understood to be a

driver of a range of hydrologic changes [1]. In my opinion, there are three reasons

why the author often use the passive voice in this paper. First of all, the passive voice

can express information in a formal way, which could give readers a sense of formal

occasion. Secondly, it is an impersonal language to state some objective facts,

particularly in science engineering. Whats more, the sentences in passive voice

deliver a suggestion that the language is well prepared. Therefore, the passive voice is

more popular than the active voice in academic writing, which is a great
enlightenment for graduate students.

Through the language analysis of this paper, I learned many practical skills about

common language and grammar choices in my discipline. Plus the assignments I have

done before, I have had a deeper and more comprehensive understanding on academic

writing as well as better writing skills, especially in my field of Civil Engineering.


[1] R. Bhatkoti, G. E. Moglen, P. M. Murray-Tuite and K. P. Triantis, "Changes to

Bridge Flood Risk under Climate Change," Journal of Hydrologic Engineering,

vol. 21, no. 12, pp. 1-9, 2016.

[2] J. M. Swales and C. B. Feak, Academic Writing for Graduate Students, Ann

Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 2012.