An Investigation of the Hortatory Texts in Persian Medical Discourse

Longacre (1996) recognizes four major discourse genres including narrative, procedural, behavioral and expository discourse. He considers exhortations to be a sub-branch of behavioral discourse, which “deals with how people did or should behave” (Longacre 1996: 9 as cited in Dooley and Levinsohn, 2000). Accordingly, this study is going to analyze Persian hortatory texts of two genres: Persian General Practitioners’ Books (GPBs) and Online Medical Journals (OMJs). In particular, it looks at the relative potency of different forms of exhortation, distinguishes between default, highlighted and backgrounded hortatory forms based on Levinsohn (2015). The corpora of this study consisted of 100 texts from two written Persian GPBs and 100 texts from two Persian OMJs. The addressees of the GPBs were general practitioners and students of medical sciences, though writers sometimes directed their exhortations to patients. The addressees of OMJs were the public with some medical knowledge. Our initial step to perform this research was to classify each sentence as an exhortation or setting it aside as a supportive material; then 2) listing the different hortatory devices used; 3) counting the frequency of each one; 4) then deciding: a) which one was default, b) and whether using the others had the effect of highlighting or backgrounding the exhortations concerned; and 5) analyzing the statistical significance of the findings through the use of SPSS software version 24. Results of the research indicated that the default devices and the most frequent hortatory devices used in GPBs were “verbless commands” (in the prescription sections of the GPB texts) and “imperatives” (in non-prescription parts of GPBs). Highlighted forms of exhortations found were “must” and “it is necessary” in GPBs. Backgrounded forms of exhortations in GPBs included “it is better”, “it is recommended” and “indirect exhortations”. Example 1, 2 and 3 show the use of the default (verbless command), highlighted (bαyæd ‘must’) and backgrounded hortatory forms (it is better) in GPBs: 1) brj-e control-e tngi-j-e nfs for controling-EZ tightness-EP-EZ breath "For controlling shortness of breath" - Inhaler salbutamol N=1 2 puffs if necessary - Inhaler beclomethasone N=1 2 puffs every 6 hours" (Attar, 2016: 191, Bronchiectasis, PP) 2) kæpsul-e αmperαzol rα bαyæd betorekαmel væ qæbl capsule Omeprazole OM must completely and before æz qæzα mæsræf nemud æz ʤævidæn væ from food consumption do.PAST.3SG from chewing and bαz kærd-æn-e kæpsul bαjæd eʤtenαb open do.PAST-INF-EZ capsule must avoidance æv-æd SUBJ.become.PRES-3SG "Omeprazole capsule must be consumed fully before eating food. Chewing and opening the capsule must be avoided." (Ayati Firoozabadi and Fallah, 2015: 17, Tennis elbow, DPG) 3) behtær æst ʤæhæt-e tæzriq-e epinefrin æz better be.PRES.3SG for-EZ injection-EZ epinephrine from soræng-e ænsolin estefαde æv-æd syringe-EZ insulin use SUBJ.become.PRES-3SG - "It is better to use Insulin Syringes for injecting Epinephrine." (Ayati Firoozabadi and Fallah, 2015: 99, Anaphylaxis, DPG) The default device in OMJs was “imperative”. Highlighted hortatory forms found in OMJs were “must” and “it is necessary”, “imperatives used with immediately” and “it is highly recommended” were used, as well. Backgrounded hortatory forms in OMJs included “it is better”, “it is recommended” and “indirect exhortations”, “imperatives directed to 1st person plural”, “(it) is helpful”, “infinitives” and “very indirect exhortations”. Example 4, 5 and 6 illustrate the use of the default (imperatives), highlighted (hætmæn ‘must’) and backgrounded hortatory forms (infinitive): 4) dær suræt-e dαt-æn-e sαbeqe-j-e bimαri-j-e in form-EZ have.PAST-INF-EZ preexistence-EP-EZ disease-EP-EZ xαs jα mæsræf-e dαru be pezek-e-tαn special or consumption-EZ drug to physician-EZ-CLIT.3PL etelα dæh-id information IMPER.give.PRES-2PL "If you have a special disease or consume some drugs, inform your physician." (Angiography of coronary vessels, DB, 5) dær suræt-i ke sαbeqe-j-e bimαri-hα-j-e in form-INDEF that preexistence-EP-EZ disease-PL-EP-EZ eneqαdi-j-e xun-i dαr-id hætmæn pezek rα coagulation-EP-EZ blood-INDEF have.PRES-2PL must physician OM motæle sαz-id informed "If you have the pre-existence of blood coagulation, you must inform your physician." (Angiography of coronary vessels, DB, 6) kαhe-e mæsræf-e qæzα-hα-j-e hejvαn-i decreasing-EZ consumption-EZ food-PL-EP-EZ animal-ATTR bexosus gut-e qermez specially meat-EZ red "Decreasing the consumption of animal foods especially red meat." (Prevention from breast cancer, DB, Chi-square test results of the study confirmed significant differences between the application of the default, highlighted and backgrounded hortatory forms used in GPBs and OMJs. In addition, the results confirmed that the factors mentioned by Levinsohn (2015) affected the choice of hortatory forms in GPBs and OMJs; in this regard, the findings demonstrated that the "physician's superior knowledge", "the type of the hortatory texts", "the position of the exhortations in the text", "the degree of prominence each exhortation is to receive", and "its scope" all influenced the form of exhortations chosen by the writers of GPBs and OMJs. Our study, further, reached some contradictory results with the ones obtained by Levinsohn (2015) which may be related to language- and culture-specificity and different discourse types studied by the authors of these studies: a. using "it is necessary" as a highlighted form of exhortation, not a backgrounding one as mentioned by Levinsohn (2015); b. using "imperatives" directed to 3rd person with equal potency of "imperatives" directed to second person, despite the assertion stated by Levinsohn (2015) where he claims that "imperatives" directed to second person are more potent than "imperatives" directed to 3rd person; and finally, c. revealing a different result in Persian medical texts from that of Levinsohn (2015) regarding the arrangement of highlighted forms of exhortations and backgrounded ones.

Article Type:
Research/Original Article
Language research, Volume:11 Issue: 32, 2019
127 - 158  
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