An Investigation of Verticality in Tertiary Students’ Academic Writing Texts: A Systemic Functional Perspective

Vasemaca T. Ledua Alifereti


This study, identifies, discusses and recommends specific linguistic features that can be explored by Non-Native English (NNE) students studying at the University of the South Pacific (USP) in Fiji to improve their academic writing texts. Firstly, the status of academic writing in relation to NNE speakers both globally and in Fiji is discussed. Secondly, two concepts ‘abstract and metaphorical’ mentioned to be lacking in USP student texts are described followed by an explanation of how the two concepts are acquired if viewed from three different perspectives. Thirdly, previous studies conducted that had explored the importance of building verticality in writing are presented. Although a number of studies have explored verticality, there are no records to show how it is represented in circumstantial elements. Next the Transitivity system which is the theoretical framework adopted by the study is discussed with a particular emphasis on Relational processes. It is claimed that abstract and metaphorical relations are made in Relational processes. Moreover, certain linguistic features closely associated with verticality are identified to elicit data. Additionally results are presented and discussed according to research questions asked. Findings prove that indeed circumstances are mostly incongruently realized in Relational clauses. In order to build verticality in tertiary students’ academic writing texts, one has to be able to understand abstract and metaphorical concepts and how they are linguistically realized in writing texts.


Horizontal and vertical knowledge structures, abstract and metaphorical concepts, grammatical metaphor, nominalization, rankshifted clauses

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