Linguistic Complexity in Academic Writing: Comparing Tasks in L2 English


  • Päivi Pietilä ILOS, University of Oslo



Three different types of academic texts written by advanced learners of English were analysed to discover whether they differed from each other in terms of syntactic and lexical complexity. The writing tasks differed in formality and personal involvement. The results were in accordance with earlier studies on L2 writing, in that the most formal texts, the MA thesis conclusions, did not contain any more subordination than the less formal texts. By the same token, the thesis texts showed the longest clauses in the data, suggesting a strong reliance on complex phrases. Another feature previously discovered to characterize formal academic L2 writing, the proportion of general academic vocabulary, was also found in the present study to differentiate the formal thesis texts from the less formal text types.

Author Biography

Päivi Pietilä, ILOS, University of Oslo

Researcher, Russian linguistics