Locutions in medical discourse in Southwestern Nigeria

Akin Odebunmi


The paper examines the pragmatic roles that locutionary acts play in understanding the communication between doctors and patients in Southwestern Nigeria. Working within John Austin’s locutionary acts, with restrictions to the lexical occurrences and lexical relationships observed in the discourse, it got data through tape recordings of doctor-patient conversations and interviews of both doctors and patients (and/or their relations).The findings revealed that two categories of locutions were engaged in hospital interactions, namely, locutions intended to be understood by non-professionals and locutions not intended to be understood by non-professionals. The paper observes that locutions in medical discourse in Southwestern Nigeria bring standard lexical choices and local linguistic initiatives of medical practitioners into a pragmatic union. It therefore concludes that the pragmatic engagement of these choices displays the tact the practitioners use in dealing with patients, and it recommends the need for the practitioners to master the locutions and their pragmatic adaptation for effective management of patients.

Quick links
A browser-friendly version of this article is not yet available. View PDF
Adegbite, A
(1991) Some features of language use in Yoruba traditional medicine. Unpublished Ph.D. thesis. Ibadan: University of Ibadan.Google Scholar
Agbamuche, M.A
(1982) The doctor and the law. In E.S. Akpata (ed.), Medical Ethics. Lagos: Lagos University Press, pp. 39-42.Google Scholar
Ahearn, Laura M
(1998) A twisted rope binds my waist: Locating constraints on meaning in a Tij Sonfest. Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 8.1: 60-86. CrossrefGoogle Scholar
Alabi, V
(1996) Parts of speech as communicative tools in medical texts. In Adegbija and Ofuya (eds.), English Language and Communication Skills for Medical, Engineering, Science, Technology and Agriculture Students. Ilorin: The English Language Outer Circle, pp. 202-212.Google Scholar
Ayeni, A
Yem-kem International Centre for Alternative Therapy. www​.doctorayeni​.com
Austin, J
(1962) How to Do Things With Words. Oxford: Clarendon Press.  BoPGoogle Scholar
Berry, M
(1977) Introduction to systemic linguistics. London: BT Batsford Limited.  BoPGoogle Scholar
Briggs, C
(1996) The meaning of nonsense, the poetics of embodiment, and the production of power in Warao healing. In C. Laderman and M. Roseman (eds.), The Performance of Healing. New YorkRoutledge, pp. 185-232.Google Scholar
Briggs, C., and C. Mantini-Briggs
(2003) Stories in Time of Cholera: Racial Profiling During a Medical Nightmare. Berkeley: University of California Press. CrossrefGoogle Scholar
Brown, G., and G. Yule
(1983) Discourse Analysis. New York: Cambridge University Press. Crossref  BoPGoogle Scholar
Chimombo, M., and R. Roseberry
(1998) The Power of Discourse: An Introduction to Discourse Analysis. New Jersey: Lawrence Eribaum Associates, Inc.  BoPGoogle Scholar
Collins, M
(1983) Communication in Health Care. Toronto: The C V Mosby Company.Google Scholar
Coupland, Justine, Nikolas Coupland, and J.D. Robinson
(1992) “How are you?: Negotiating phatic communion. Language in Society 21.2: 207-230. CrossrefGoogle Scholar
Cruse, D
(1986) Lexical Semantics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.  MetBibGoogle Scholar
Crystal, D
(1976) The diagnosis of sociolinguistic problems in doctor-patient interaction. In D. Tanner (ed.), Language and Communication in General Practice. London: Hodder and Stoughton Limited.Google Scholar
Davidson, B
(2001) Questions in cross-linguistic medical encounters: The role of the hospital interpreter. Anthropological Quarterly 74.4: 170-178. CrossrefGoogle Scholar
Drennan, G., A. Levett, and L. Swartz
(1991) Hidden dimensions of power and resistance in the translation process: A South African study. Medical Psychiatry 15.3: 361-381. CrossrefGoogle Scholar
Eggins, S., and J. Martin
(1997) Genres and registers of discourse. In Teun A. Van Dijk (ed.), Discourse as Structure and Process. London: Sage publications, pp. 230-256.Google Scholar
Femi-Pearse, D
(1982) General ethical considerations and dilemmas in Nigeria. Medical Ethics. Lagos: Lagos University Press, pp. 61-74.Google Scholar
Fisher, S., and S. Groce
(1990) Accounting practices in medical interviews. Language in Society 19: 225-250. Crossref  BoPGoogle Scholar
Finkler, K
(1994) Search healing and biomedicine compared. Medical Anthropology Quarterly 8.2: 178-197. CrossrefGoogle Scholar
Folarin, B
(1979) Context, register and language varieties: A proposed model for the discussion of varieties of English in Nigeria. In E. Ubahakwe (ed.), Varieties and Functions of English in Nigeria. Ibadan: African University Press, pp. 77-85.Google Scholar
Frazer, B
(1986) The domains of pragmatics. In J.C. Richards and W.S. (eds.), Language and Communication. London: Longman, pp. 2-57.Google Scholar
(1990) Perspectives on politeness. Journal of Pragmatics 14.2: 219-236. CrossrefGoogle Scholar
Ghadessy, M
(ed.) (1988) Registers of Written English. London: Pinter Publishers Limited.  BoPGoogle Scholar
Goddard, C
(1998) Semantic Analysis. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Gracia-Murga, F
Grundy, P
(2000) Doing Pragmatics. London: Oxford University Press.  BoPGoogle Scholar
Halion, K
(2003) Deconstruction and speech act theory: A defence of the distinction between normal and parasitic speech acts (Ph.D. Dissertation).
Halliday, M.A.K., and R. Hassan
(1991) Language Context and Text: Aspects of Language in a Social- Semiotic Perspective. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Hanks, W
(1992) The indexical ground of deictic reference. In A. Duranti and C. Goowin (eds) Rethinking context, language as an interactive phenomenon. Cambridge: Cambribge University Press, 209-246.Google Scholar
(1996) Exorcism and description of participant roles. In M. Silverstein and G. Urba (eds.), Natural Histories and Discourse. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, pp. 160-220.Google Scholar
(2000) [1993] The five grounds of memory. In Intertexts: Writings in Language, Utterance and Context. Lanham: Rowman and Littefield Publishers, Inc, pp. 197-217.Google Scholar
Hensyl, W.R
(1990) Stedman's Medical Dictionary. New York: Williams and Wilkins.Google Scholar
Holder, R.W
(1996) Oxford Dictionary of Euphemisms. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Irvine, Judith
(1998) Ideologies of honorific language. In B. Schieffelin, K. Woolard and P. Kroskrity (eds.), Language Ideologies: Practice and Theory. New York: Oxford University Press, pp. 51-67.Google Scholar
Kataoka, K
(2004) Co-construction of a mental map in spatial discourse: A case study of Japanese rock climbers use of deictic verbs of motion. Pragmatics 14.4: 409-438.  BoPGoogle Scholar
Lakoff, G., and M. Johnson
(1980) Metaphors we Come to Live by. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
Laurence, D.R., and P.N. Bennet
(1982) Clinical pharmacology. Edinburgh: The English Language Book Society and Churchill Livingstone.Google Scholar
Leech, G
(1983) Principles of Pragmatics. New York: Longman.  BoPGoogle Scholar
Levinson, S.
(1983) Pragmatics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.  BoP. CrossrefGoogle Scholar
Lutz, W
(1989) Notes on a definition of doublespeak. In W. Lutz (ed.), Beyond Nineteen Eighty-Four. Illinois: The National Council of Teachers of English.Google Scholar
Lyons, J
(1979) Semantics I. London: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
(1981) Theoretical Linguistics. London: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
Mabayoje, O
(1982) Medical ethics in Nigeria: Its history, problems and appraisal. In E.S. Akpata (ed.), Medical ethicsLagos: Lagos University Press, pp. 7-16.Google Scholar
Martin, E
(2000) Oxford Concise Medical Dictionary. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Matthiessen, C
(1993) Register in the round: Diversity in a unified theory of register analysis. In Mohsen Ghadessy (ed.), Register analysis. London and New York: Pinter Publishers, pp. 221-292.Google Scholar
Mey, J
(2001) Pragmatics: An Introduction. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers.Google Scholar
Mundy-Castle, A.C
(1982) Medical ethics: A psychologist's view. In E.S. Akpata (ed.), Medical ethicsLagos: Lagos University Press, pp. 17-20.Google Scholar
Myerscough, P
(1992) Talking with Patients. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Odebunmi, A
(1996) Abbreviations and acronyms in MESTA texts. In Adegbija and Ofuya (eds.), English Language and Communication Skills. Ilorin: The English Language Outer Circle, pp. 248-261.Google Scholar
(2001) The English word and meaning: An introductory text. Ogbomoso: Critical Sphere.Google Scholar
(2002) The pragmatics of face acts in a Nigerian university administration. In Babatunde and Adeyanju (eds.), Language, Meaning and Society. Ilorin: Haytee, pp. 179-192.Google Scholar
(2005) The context of hospital conversational interactions in Southwestern Nigeria. Journal of Pragmatics 1150.Google Scholar
Ogunbode, O
(1991) Effective communication in the medical sciences. In Adegbija (ed.), Effective Communication in Teaching and Learning: Basic Principles. Ilorin: University of Ilorin GNS Division, pp. 20-33.Google Scholar
Oloruntoba-Oju, T
(1996) Aspects of communication in the medical class. In Adegbija and Ofuya (eds.), English Language and Communication Skills. Ilorin: The English language outer circle, pp. 187-201.Google Scholar
Poyton, C
(1985) Language and Gender: Making the Difference. Geelong, Vic: Deakin.Google Scholar
Searle, J
(1969) Speech Acts: An Essay in the Philosoply of Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Crossref  BoPGoogle Scholar
Silverstein, M
(2004) Cultural concepts and the language-culture nexus. Current Anthropology 45.5: 621-652. CrossrefGoogle Scholar
Sokoya, G
(2000) Ethics and Legal Implications of Health Care: A Handbook for Nurses. Lagos: CSS Limited.Google Scholar
Stockwell, P
(2002) Sociolinguistics. London and New York: Routledge.  BoPGoogle Scholar
Tanner, B
(1976) Language and Communication in General Practice. London Hodder Stoughton.Google Scholar
Thomas, J
(1983) Cross-cultural pragmatic failure. Applied Linguistics 4.2: 90-112. CrossrefGoogle Scholar
(1995) Meaning in Interaction: An Introduction to Pragmatics. New York: Longman.  BoPGoogle Scholar
Van Dijk, T
(1976) Text and Context: Exploration into the Semantics and Pragmatics of Discourse. London: Longman.Google Scholar
Van Dijk, T.
(1981) Studies in the Pragmatics of Discourse. The Hague: Mouton Publishers. CrossrefGoogle Scholar
(1997) Discourse as Social Interaction. London: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
Wilce, J.M
(2004) Madness, fear, and control in Bangladesh: Clashing bodies of power/knowledge. Medical Anthropology Quarterly 18.3: (special issue on Illness and Illusions of Control) 357-375. CrossrefGoogle Scholar
Woolard, Kathryn A
(2004) Code switching. In A. Duranti (ed.), Companion to Linguistic Anthropology. Malden: Blackwell.Google Scholar
Yule, G
(1996) Pragmatics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.  BoPGoogle Scholar
Yusuf, Y
(1996) A speech act study of English and Yoruba proverbs on women. Unpublished Ph.D. Dissertation. University of Lagos.