Language, Literacy, and Sociocultural Studies ETDs

Publication Date

Summer 7-15-2021


This study compared 11 noun modifiers, adopted from Biber et al.’s (2011) index, in the writing of English native speakers (NS) and non-native speakers (NNS) graduate students in Education field and compare them with the frequencies found in published writings. Also, it investigated how the language background influences NP complexity in academic writing. The findings showed compared to the expert writers, the student writers used different amounts of phrasal modifiers in their dissertations (e.g., premodifying nouns). Then, a Chi-square test and residual analysis were run to explore how language background influences the noun phrases. Four particular noun modifiers were influenced largely by language background factor on noun phrase complexity. NS PhD students utilized premodifying nouns more effectively to structure dense noun phrases in their dissertations. On the other hand, L2 PhD students used more diverse noun phrases based on prepositional phrases (other), prepositions followed by -ing clauses, and infinitive clauses.

Document Type


Degree Name

Language, Literacy and Sociocultural Studies

Level of Degree


Department Name

Language, Literacy, and Sociocultural Studies

First Committee Member (Chair)

Mary F. Rice

Second Committee Member

Pisarn Chamcharatsri

Third Committee Member

Cristyn Elder

Fourth Committee Member

Basim M. Alamri