Contemporary Foreign Languages Studies ›› 2022, Vol. 22 ›› Issue (6): 55-67.doi: 10.3969/j.issn.1674-8921.2022.06.008

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Semantic Density, Syntactic Complexity and Disciplinary Knowledge Coding

GAO Yanmei1(), ZHOU Jiangping1,2   

  • Online:2022-12-28 Published:2022-12-02


Semantic density and syntactic complexity reveal the characteristics of knowledge coding and culture of a discipline. The aim of this study is to testify the feasibility of semantic density and syntactic complexity as measures of knowledge coding in linguistics. By deploying the analytical tools of semantic density and syntactic complexity, this study compared four sets of abstracts of academic articles written by four groups of researchers at different academic levels, namely, experts of native speaker of English (NR), Chinese experts (CR), Chinese master degree students (MA), Chinese undergraduate students of linguistic courses (EFL). The results show that distributions of SD and SC are different among the four groups. NR, CR and MA used much more condensed technical terms than EFL writers. NR’s syntactic complexity is much higher than that of the MA and EFL group. There is no significant difference between NR and CR. Data from the analysis testified the validity of the two analytical tools for assessing writers’ capacity of knowledge coding.

Key words: Semantic Density (SD), Syntactic Complexity (SC), disciplinary knowledge coding, disciplinary culture

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