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ERIC Number: EJ1123451
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2016-May
Pages: 18
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-2191-611X
Euphemism as a Core Feature of "Patientese": A Comparative Study between English and French
Faure, Pascaline
Language Learning in Higher Education, v6 n1 p167-184 May 2016
The purpose of this lexicological study is to present a typology of patients' euphemizing lay denominations of medical terms illustrated by examples in English and French. Various textbooks and lexicons dealing with English and French for medical purposes served as corpora. The euphemisms were classified according to the three semantic processes by means of which they were created: widening (Eng. "down below" for "genitals" and Fr. "poitrine" [lit. "chest"] for "breast"), reduction (Eng. "miss"* for "miscarriage" and Fr. "MST" [lit. "STD"] for "sexually-transmitted disease"), and analogy (Eng. "engine" for "heart" and Fr. "tuyauterie" [lit. "pipes"] for "urinary system"). Underlying these semantic processes, the same structural metaphors in both languages were identified: VAGUER IS BETTER (widening), LESS OF FORM IS LESS OF CONTENT (reduction), and THE BODY IS A MACHINE/ORGANS ARE CONTAINERS (analogy). The examples show that these categories are not fully exclusive. Because lay terms used by patients during interview are a source of major misunderstandings on the part of healthcare professionals who are not native speakers of their patients' language, pedagogical guidelines are provided so as to encourage Language for Medical Purposes (LMP) teachers to incorporate the study of "patientese" into their course. In my conclusion, I offer two hypotheses that both need further exploration: the probable evolution of patients' terminology towards enhanced technicality under the influence of both medical TV series and the Internet, and consequently, the plausible use of technical terms as new euphemisms.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
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