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Medical communication in L1- and L2-contexts: comparative modification analysis

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>03/2010
<mark>Journal</mark>Intercultural Pragmatics
Issue number1
Volume7
Number of pages28
Pages (from-to)103-130
StatePublished
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Good communicative skills are key to medical professionals; they may even
be life saving. Because of a lack of research on migrant doctors (rather
than migrant patients) and on pragmatic aspects of doctors’ communication
with patients (rather than on strictly linguistic aspects), the present study
investigated the pragmatic competence of doctors using an L2 in their clinical
setting. By means of discourse completion tasks, L1 and L2 doctors in
Belgium and Sweden were studied in terms of how they modify their interactions
with patients. Discrepancies were found between the di¤erent
groups of doctors. The Belgian L1 doctors used more internal modification
than their L2 colleagues (syntactic and lexical modification of their main
message). The Belgian L2 doctors’ underrepresentation of syntactic and
lexical modification is counterbalanced by a native-like pattern for external
modification, whereby these doctors seem to pay particular attention to
consolidation. The Swedish L1 doctors used more external modification
(adding an utterance after their main message) than their L2 colleagues,
but the Swedish L2 doctors used more internal, syntactic modification
which can be understood as an expression of an overcompensation strategy
to ensure adequate mitigation and consolidation. Pragmatically, one type of
Swedish L2 underrepresentation, i.e., external modification, is counterbalanced
by another type of modification, i.e., internal modification.