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Pragmatic Strategies of Diagnostic News Delivery in Nigerian Hospitals

Akin Odebunmi (Ibadan)



This paper sets out to study pragmatic strategies of diagnostic news delivery in Nigerian hospitals, an area that has received extremely little attention in the linguistic literature. It ultimately aims to see how these strategies are similar to or are different from those used in Western hospitals, especially as studied by Maynard (1991a, 1991b, 1991c, 1992, 2003, 2004). The hospitals sampled were stratified into teaching, state-government owned and private hospitals, and a random selection of five hospitals from each group was made. Data were collected through tape recordings, and personal observation of hospital interactions. The analysis of data was based on insights from Levinson's (1979) notion of activity type and Maynard's (1991a, 1991b, 1991c, 1992, 2003, 2004) devices of diagnostic news delivery. The findings reveal that three strategies are used to declare diagnostic news. Two of these are the main strategies identified by Maynard, namely asserting the condition and citing the evidence, but the third, mitigating the blunt news through veils and hedges, is largely peculiar to Nigerian hospitals. The paper concludes that a study of pragmatic strategies of diagnostic news delivery contributes to a better understanding of hospital interactions, and provides insights into doctors' verbal outputs in diagnostic meetings.

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