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Functional peculiarities of complex sentences in English-language aviation texts

Mel'dianova Anna Valer'evna

PhD in Philology

Associate Professor of the Department of Language and Translation Studies at Moscow Aviation Institute (National Research University)

125993, Russia, Moskovskaya oblast', g. Moscow, ul. Volokolamskoe Shosse, 4

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Pomerantsev Sergei Vladimirovich

Public Relations Specialist, Inditex LLC

123100, Russia, g. Moscow, ul. Presnenskaya Naberezhnaya, 10

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Abstract: This article is devoted to the peculiarities of functioning composite sentences in English aviation texts. The subject matter of this research is types of complex sentences in modern English and the means of connecting main and subordinate parts of these sentences. Research in the article is done on the basis of scientific and journalistic styles. Special attention is paid to the general characteristics of lexical and grammatical features of these two text styles. In the article, a comparative analysis of different types of subordinate clauses is made and difficulties in translating them from English into Russian are analyzed. In her research, Meldianova applies the following research methods: description used to define, interpret and classify complex sentences; and comparison used to analyze types of syndetic words and subordinating conjunctions in complex sentences. The novelty of this research consists in the conducted for the first time complex study of means of connecting sentences within a composite sentence on the basis of English aviation texts of scientific and journalistic styles.

Keywords: syndetic word, subordinate clause, journalistic style, scientific style, asyndetic connection, syndetic connection, complex sentence, composite sentence, subordinating conjunction, means of connection

Functional peculiarities of Complex Sentences in English Aviation Texts


English composite sentences occupy a central place in the system of the language. They have been subject to analysis and research for a long time. The rules of constructing sentences, types of sentence patterns, semantic and structural peculiarities of sentences have been subject of research in the works of many Russian and foreign linguists, such as V.G. Admoni [1], N. D. Arutyunova [2], L.S. Barchudarov [3], M.Y. Blokh [5], N. A. Slyusareva [4], M. Bryant [6], N. Chomsky [7], W. Fransis [9], Z. Harris [10], A. Hill [11]. But their use in English aviation texts is not studied to a full extent.

Style of the text can be expressed in different ways. It may be characterized by a large amount of technicalities, paragraph size, inverted or direct word order, use of different stylistic devices such as comparisons, metaphors, etc. Concerning the main point of the research — complex sentences in aviation texts — they are generally used in scientific and journalistic styles.

The popularity of these styles in English and Russian is obvious. A great amount of different inventions were made by scientists who spoke these two languages, which highly increased the demand of scientific texts. Journalistic style is no way inferior: one can see it in newspapers, magazines and TV-shows. Consequently, these styles of speech will keep being popular and play a significant role in written and oral speech for a long time.

So, both styles play a significant role in the language. That is why it is essential to point out their most important aspects.

Scientific style is of the most widely used in written speech. Its main objective is the description of various new realities on a professional level and the presentation of the phenomena surrounding us in the most general way. Scientific style can be characterized by the frequent use of terminology, a high level of specifics, a low amount of introductory constructions and a strict connection between parts of utterances.

This style of text is commonly divided into popular-science and educational-science style. The peculiarities of these two substyles consist in the possible use in them some language tools commonly peculiar to journalistic and sometimes even those of colloquial style, as well as various means of expression such as comparisons, metaphors, parceling and others.

For example, the use of modal phrases and words expressing probability such as probably, perhaps, maybe points out the popular-science style of the text, which contradicts the main fundamentals of the pure scientific style— the exactness of the given information.

Another peculiarity of the scientific style is the established grammatical standards. An integral component of scientific texts constitute sentences with non-personal verbal forms: infinitives, participles and gerunds and their constructions.

Among lexical features of a scientific style one should mention the frequent use of functional parts of speech (conjunctions, prepositions, particles and interjections), adverbs which save logical connections between sentences and also neologisms and professionalisms.

Journalistic style of the text, the so-called «the language of mass media», is associated with social and political spheres of life. Its main features include high emotional coloring, logical character and use of concepts which have high political and social influence. Essential features of this style are informing, enlightenment and impact. Concerning its four subtypes, composite sentences are characteristic only for newspaper style, which includes various articles and information notes devoted to aviation topics.

Complex sentence

By a complex sentence in the article such a type of a composite sentence is understood, for which the inner division into two parts is inherent. These parts are connected within the complex sentence by means of subordinating connection. The subordinate sentence of these complex structures contains the explanation of the concepts, ideas and thoughts expressed in the main part. Subordinate sentence may follow or precede the main clause or may be inverted into it: «When do you think he will come».

It should be noticed that the structure of English sentences is different in many ways from the Russian constructions. Synthetical languages try to simplify sentences but they construct a complex system of sentences connected with each other by coordinating conjunctions – as in Russian. Analytical languages (as English especially) try to express everything inside the sentence and use various infinitive, gerundial and participial constructions. For example, in English they would prefer not a sentence They say he is a good student , but he is said to be a good student [8, p. 10], thus they would prefer a simple sentence to a complex one.

Besides, if the subject of the main and subordinate clauses coincides, in the English complex sentence it is repeated. Though, in this case in the Russian language the subject in the subordinate clause will be omitted. Other differences may concern punctuation. In Modern English if the subordinate clause follows the main one, the sentence is not marked by any punctuation. In case the subordinate clause precedes the main sentence, they are separated by a comma. In Russian a comma is put in both cases.

Peculiarities of translation of composite sentences

During the process of translation there are cases when we can not express the information so precisely and briefly as in the original language. Concerning this fact, the translation of some parts of a text may require much more time and sometimes one has to make the translated sentences less aesthetic.

While translating from Russian interpreters often resort to the method of the separation a composite sentence into two parts, so that we can easily catch the idea of this text fragment. On the contrary during the translation from the English language two sentences are often joined into one, in which parts of the sentence are connected by participles. Obviously, this way of translating makes the sentence unaesthetic and difficult for perception.

Complex sentences in English aviation texts

In research conducted in this article a close attention is also paid to the study of complex composite structures in English aviation texts of mainly journalistic and scientific style and ways of connecting sentences in them.

The research shows that complex sentences are mostly typical for journalistic style of text which gives more freedom and more possibilities for ingenious narration to the author. In journalistic style composite sentences, including complex ones may include tropes such as comparison, as well as other expressive lexical means and colloquial phrases:

«For several years, Airbus has been a cash cow for its two shareholders, EADS and junior partner BAE Systems, as it has slowly wrested market leadership in the airliner market from US rival Boeing» [12].

In this fragment of the text Airbus company is compared to a cash cow because it brings a huge profit to its main shareholders.

What concerns grammatical structure of the sentence, we can distinguish a subordinate clause of manner introduced by the conjunction «as». Moreover, this sentence contains homogeneous members. All of them lead to grammatical complexity of this very part, however it does not cause any problems in catching the point due to correct and clear formation of the sentence on the part of the author.

«We have no doubt any Airbus pilot would immediately feel at home in the A380» [12].

In this sentence the test pilot uses the idiomatic expression «feel (himself) at home» to share his impressions about Airbus A380. An interesting feature here is that the subordinate clause is linked with the main clause asyndetically, which refers to the inspiration of the speaker to make the information less complex for perception.

One of the problems of aviation texts is a large amount of tautology. It appears due to infrequent use of personal pronouns and complex sentences. This phenomenon is expressed by reiteration of a word or a word combination in several sentences in a row.

To avoid such difficulties, editors and translators try to replace a repeating unit. A complex sentence with its means of connection is one of the best ways to solve the tautology problem and make the text fragment more clear and well-turned. An ability to add more aesthetics to any text demonstrates the significant role of complex sentences in a language.

Types of subordinate clauses in English aviation texts

To make the process of translation of complex sentences easier it is necessary to find out which functional parts of speech are specific for a certain style of a text.

An analysis of English aviation texts shows that different ways of connecting clauses are used in complex composite sentences. Subordinate clauses may perform different functions, but their main difference from the main sentence is a bigger informative character.

The most prevailing type among subordinate clause in English aviation texts is attributive sentences with 30 % of total quantity. They act as an attribute in the sentence and are introduced by pronouns, syndetic words and adverbs such as who, whose, which, that, whom, when, where, why.

Then follow object clauses with 25%. They may be connected to a sentence syndetically or asyndetically.

Adverbial clauses are presented by subordinates of time, comparison, place and consequence. They consist 15% of total amount of subordinates.

Subordinating connection in English aviation texts

A large number of composite sentences consist of complex sentences with several subordinates of different type. A quantitative analysis was conducted in the article to define the most preferable ways of joining two parts of a complex sentence in English aviation texts. Such sentences are used in 30% of the total amount.

It should be mentioned that in scientific texts the use of syndetic words in complex sentences is rather high. A detailed study of complex sentences in scientific texts made clear a tendency in Modern English to use syndetic words instead of any other connectives:

«The aircraft is equipped with a modernized electronic countermeasures complex and a new passive jamming system that increased aircraft survivability in conditions of hostile air defense opposition» [12].

This tendency of the prevailing use of syndetic words can be explained by the frequent usage of such verbal constructions as «which proves», «which explains», «that leads to…» and some others in scientific texts. Asyndetic way of connection, which one can not see in the Russian language, is used a bit less in such texts, written in English.

Nevertheless, syndetic words are present in journalistic style as well. In general they are used in 45% of the sentences taken for the research. The most prevalent of them are the following connective words: «that» — 60%, «which» —12% and «when» —10%. The remaining part consists of less used syndetic words such as «what», «whose», «how», «why» and some others.

Concerning subordinating conjunctions, their use depends to a large degree on the text style. In general, they constitute only about 20% of the total amount of means of connection. In journalistic style, nevertheless all types of subordinators are present, for example the subordinating conjunction «that», which introduces subject and predicative clauses, occurs in 30 % of cases. Sometimes there can be two different «that» in one sentence — a conjunction and a syndetic word: «We will look at routes that have such a high demand that even today they could use more aircraft because of slot or timing restrictions» [12].

In the first case «that» is employed here as a syndetic word, in the second subordinate clause it fulfills the function of a subordinator.

Generally this part of speech constitutes 35% of all the complex sentences studied in journalistic texts.

In sentences that pursue the aim of making the sentence easier for perception, asyndetic way of connecting parts of a complex sentence prevails. Mainly it is used to quote someone’s words (He said + subject; they mentioned + subject).

Rarely we can find a complex sentence comprising two or more subordinate clauses joined asyndetically: «The airport says it thinks this will be “adequate” for the 2006-2010 timeframe and has no plans to follow up on a proposal by Airbus to relocate two taxiways to make way for further A380 stands, although options for handling more A380s are being studied for the master plan» [12].

The author of this sentence tries to avoid tautology by not using conjunction «that», thus making the sentence less complex, as it is already complicated by homogeneous members and the subordinate clause with a conjunction «although».

On the whole, asyndetic way of connection is used in 23% of all the analyzed sentences of both styles.

Comparative analysis of connectives in English and Russian aviation texts

The conducted research shows that means of connecting sentences in Russian aviation texts differ greatly from English ones.

It is necessary to point out that the role of syndetic words in Russian is much less — they constitute only 35% of all the analyzed cases. The most frequently used word is «that» (64%), then follow «which» (17%) and «where» (13%).

The tendency to the use of conjunctions is obvious in the Russian language. Compared to English texts, these parts of speech are used more often (65%). The prevalent subordinator is «that» (65%), then follow «how» (23%) and «in order that» with 12 %.


Summing up, it may be concluded that complex sentences are more common for aviation journalistic texts; in scientific style they are rather rare. This can be explained by the fact, that journalistic genre is characterized by more freedom of narration and more expressive, eloquent way of rendering thoughts and ideas. It is defined by the use of logically connected structures in their full form, of complete extended sentences connected by conjunctions clearly showing the relations expressed. At the same time comparing English and Russian aviation texts it should be mentioned that in the Russian language clauses are joined within a complex composite sentence mainly by means of connectives: conjuctions and connective words. In Modern English besides these two types asyndetic connection is also widely employed.

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