Research article
Issue: № 2 (10), 2017


The article presents the author's methodology for researching such phenomenon as “professionally determined linguistic consciousness” in various groups of physicians. Three kinds of texts have been used as research material: written scientific discourse, oral scientific discourse, and colloquial speech of physicians. The obtained data have been compared with the data of the direct associative experiment which has been conducted in two groups of informants – medical workers and non-medical workers (as a control group). As a result, the described material demonstrated that it has a structural representation in the form of an associative-semantic field “Disease”. “Disease” is the key concept of medicine, reflecting the pathology of a living organism growth and development.

Interdependence of consciousness and language is best described in terms of “linguistic consciousness”. Linguistic consciousness can be effectively explored using the methodological basis of the deterministic dependence of such phenomena as: consciousness, language, culture, ethnos, and society. An individual, as a representative of a certain ethnos and community, owns a specific linguistic and cultural code which is being reflected in his linguistic consciousness. Linguistic consciousness is socially and culturally marked, since every culture has its own set of axiological components. I.V. Privalova argues: “Peculiarities of the world perception may reveal in linguistic axiological language matter” [5, P. 6]. Stereotypes and values are fixed in linguistic consciousness, and they can be qualified as “value dominants” [6, P. 97] of a certain ethno-linguistic culture. Socio-cultural theories of psychological development by V. Dilthey, J. Piaget, L.S. Vygotsky only confirm the fact of existence of a stable link between the society and the cultural heritage – on the one hand, and the language and consciousness of an individual – on the other. L.S. Vygotsky argues that any personality is socially shaped, whereas behavior and consciousness of an individual are developed under the influence of a certain set of socio-cultural relations [1]. Vygotsky was the first to speak about the duality (or dual correlation) “language – consciousness”. Later on, the methodological grounds of the theory of “linguistic consciousness” were refined in the works of Russian psycholinguists (A.N. and A.A. Leontiev, E.F. Tarasov, N.V. Ufimtseva, and Y.A. Sorokin among others).

There can be hardly any objections against the statement about the national and cultural determinism of linguistic consciousness. This theoretical premise is taken for granted. At the same time, professional determinism of linguistic consciousness is the fact that needs to be proved. A number of convincing evidences have to be provided in favour of the statement that linguistic consciousness of an individual is professionally marked. The scope of factors that affect the development of consciousness is rather wide; among them, one can name social environment and the professional sphere in which an individual is engaged. On top of that, there can be psychological factors “... the operation of the adjustment mechanisms, such as psychological sets and attitudes that can influence the formation of consciousness” [4, P. 2]. As well, the communicative activity of an individual should be taken into consideration. As far as practical methods are concerned, the following are used for the investigation of professionally determined linguistic consciousness.

First, associative experiment remains the main method of research of linguistic consciousness. The target of this method is to collect the valid number of verbal associations of respondents. The data obtained as a result of the associative experiment can be used for designing associative-verbal fields and networks, their structure and the specificity of nucleus and peripheral zones. Noteworthy, the set of associates that is produced by informants may reveal the national specifics of language semantics. The second method of linguistic consciousness investigation is discourse-cognitive analysis. The study of various types of discourses is done with the aim of description and selection of key concepts. At the final stage of this research, the construction of conceptual and semantic fields is undertaken. The third method that is used for practical investigation of linguistic consciousness is investigation of the structure of such linguistic entity as “communicative-thematic field”. Based on the analysis of various discursive segments, verbal units are selected. These verbal units become the material for the design of a certain thematic field. Namely this technique can be effective in studying the professional determinism of linguistic consciousness [3].

We suggest applying author’s methodology to the study of such phenomenon as “professionally determined linguistic consciousness”. Our approach is based on the combination of data obtained as a result of a three-stage analysis:

1) On the first stage, various types of medical discourse have been collected and explored: written scientific discourse (monographs and scientific articles from medical journals); oral scientific discourse (tape recordings of lectures on various medical themes read by professors and associate professors of Saratov State Medical University). Then, we have researched the conversational speech of medical workers (recordings of spontaneous informal conversations of physicians of various specializations). It was concluded that the described material has a structural representation in the form of an associative-semantic field “Disease”. “Disease” is the key concept of medicine, reflecting a deviation from the norm. Therefore, all the components and elements of the given field were investigated and described.

2) On the second stage, a guided associative experiment has been conducted with two similar groups of informants (all of them are the residents of Saratov). Each group consisted of one hundred respondents. The informants have been asked to write down their reactions to the word “Disease”. The first group of respondents comprised the doctors of different specialties. In the second group, there were respondents whose occupations were not connected with medicine. They were the representatives of different professions and all of them with higher education (technical, economic, humanitarian, etc.). Such issues as gender and sex of the informants were considered to be irrelevant.

3) On the third stage, the linguistic material has been analyzed and structured. As a result, an associative-semantic field with the principle concept "Disease" has been designed (see Fig. 1). Then, the structure of this field has been analyzed. It has been concluded that the associative-semantic field "Disease" in the speech of physicians, has all the necessary attributes of a well-structured field. Among these attributes the following have been singled out: the vastness of the composition; the integrity of the field, due to inter-correlated connection of words; b) arbitrariness, which means blurring of the boundaries of the field predetermined by the continuity of an individual’s vocabulary; c) intersection with other fields; the systematic character of the relationships between the elements of the field; d) “electability” of the field in the language system and speech; the existence of nuclear and peripheral zones in the structure of the field, etc. [2].



Fig.1 - Associative-semantic field with the principle concept "Disease"


To conclude, professionally determined linguistic consciousness of medical workers is a complex phenomenon, the successful study of which is possible only as a combination of several practical techniques which are supposed to be elaborated and refined in future.


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