Vol. 5, Issue 1 (2019)
A systemic functional analysis of doctor-patient verbal discourse
Author(s): Adewale Kazeem Ayeloja
Abstract: Doctor-patient verbal discourse is plagued by some communication challenges owing to the sensitive nature of communication in medical settings. Several discourse-analytic researches have been done on doctor-patient verbal discourse but with little attention paid to systemic functional analysis of the discourse to lay bare the lexico-grammatical choices made by the interlocutors and the functions they perform in making the discourse cohesive. Consequently, this study investigates language use in doctor-patient verbal discourse with sole aim of revealing the actual lexico-grammatical choices deployed and their functions in relation to enhancing diagnostic communication at the State Hospital, Ijaye, Abeokuta, Nigeria. The theoretical framework adopted for the study is M.A.K. Halliday’s Systemic Functional Grammar. Fifty tape recordings of doctor-patient verbal discourse were made at the State Hospital, Ijaye, Abeokuta, Nigeria. A total of twenty-five interactions were purposively selected because of their strategic content from the data got at the hospital. Thereafter, the data were orthographically transcribed and subjected to qualitative analysis. The various lexico-grammatical choices perform a number of linguistic functions. Collocation connects texts; modal auxiliaries express views, opinions, decisions and expectations; imperatives give orders; interrogatives elicit information; declaratives explain issues, offer counsels, and issue warnings; conjunction join sentences, clauses and words together and; substitution replaces items. A good knowledge of the lexico-grammatical choices made by the interlocutors as well as their linguistic functions is salutary to a better understanding of diagnostic discourse in Nigeria.