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Terminology variation in Croatian medical written discourse


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Bergovec, Marina. (2018). Terminology variation in Croatian medical written discourse. PhD Thesis. Filozofski fakultet u Zagrebu, Department of Linguistics.
(Poslijediplomski doktorski studij lingvistike) [mentor Jelaska, Zrinka].

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The phenomenon of variation in terminology has in recent times become quite a frequent topic of research within the field because researchers have realized its importance and frequency in specialized communication. The analysis of terminological variation in Croatian medical written discourse aims to answer the key questions concerning terminological variation – to what extent is the term variation present in professional medical discourse as well as in lay discourse, and is there a functional aspect of variation within the discourse of specialized language, and what is the motivation behind it. The research consists of the theoretical part, which describes the importance of the topic of terminological variation in the field of terminology, and presents the change in attitude towards variation in the last few decades in the major contemporary terminological approaches. Methodological part is developed within several contemporary terminological theories, which accept variation as the inherent characteristic of the specialized language and suggest certain methodological tools that should be considered in its analysis. Cognitive-based terminological approaches such as the Communicative Theory of Terminology (Cabré Castellví 1999, 2003), the Sociocognitive Theory of Terminology (Temmerman 2000) and the Frame-based Terminology (Faber 2012) were used as a general theoretical framework for the analysis of Croatian medical term variants. Terminological units have triple composition – they are lexical units with specialized meaning within a specialized domain and with their lexical and syntactic structure; they are communicative units used primarily in specialized discourse and in dissemination of specialized knowledge, and finally, they are cognitive units with their place in a conceptual structure of a domain, and their meaning determined by it. The dynamic and multidimensional nature of terminological units calls for adequate models of their representation and description. The Sociocognitive Theory of Terminology elaborated in more detail the relation between the cognitive dimension of the term and its reflection on the linguistic level. Term variation is seen as the result of the interaction of the language and the real world and the way we perceive it. Frame-based terminology focused primarily on the representation of the dynamic character of terms and conceptual structures. They proposed a frame-based presentation of specialized knowledge domains, which means that concepts are organized in frames which represent a certain event of the domain. The aim of the research is to conduct a corpus-based analysis of terminological variants extracted out of two specialized corpora – the first corpus was compiled of medical texts from the field of coronary heart diseases intended for medical professionals at all levels, as well as for medical students; the second corpus was compiled of popular medical texts from the same field, but written for patients and other laymen. The research is based on the following hypotheses: 1. medical specialized language can be divided into at least two registers according to the two different categories of readers of medical texts – medical experts and patients or other laymen. Each register can be identified with its distinguished characteristics concerning terms used in the discourse – expert/layperson dichotomy is, among others, the reflection of the adjustment of specialized knowledge to the lay readers, and other communicative goals; 2. terminological variation in medical discourse is not just a communicative coincidence – terminological variants are functional in the discourse and the context they appear in, and the usage of a certain variant is motivated. The greater number of variants is expected in the non-expert corpus as the result of the popularization of specialized knowledge; 3. the medical language and other specialized languages are functional registers of the natural language that change in their linguistic form and meaning according to different communicative needs. This research incorporated several most important methodological steps that distinguish contemporary cognitive linguistic approaches from the traditional approach to term analysis. Firstly, the terms and their variants are studied within the wider context of their appearance, because the wider context often serves as a source of relevant concept information. Terms are for this reason extracted from the corpora of texts in use and, as such, meet the cognitive linguistics criteria for the analysis of the language in use. Secondly, each term and its variant is seen as an integral part of the domain conceptual structure in whole, which is dynamic and tends to change over time because of the evolution of the concept and/or the domain, or as the result of the multidimensionality of the term. Multidimensionality is the quality of a term to get adjusted to different perspectives of the speaker on the concept, giving rise to different conceptualizations, which in turn result in different denominations. Thirdly, different motivation can be found behind term variants, some of them affect only the form, but some of them affect the meaning, as well. In line with the cognitive approaches to language, the changes at the term level are seen as the reflection of the changes at the concept level. Two specialized corpora are first compiled for the extraction of most frequent words in each corpus. The expert corpus consisted of medical textbooks, manuals, scientific and expert articles related to the field of coronary heart disease. The lay corpus is compiled from printed manuals for patients and popular scientific articles related to the same medical topic as well as the articles collected from the internet. Sketch Engine tools are used both for corpus compilation and for the variant extraction. Out of 150 extracted key words for each corpus, 120 terms, which represent the concepts of the chosen medical domain, are chosen for the analysis from the expert corpus, and 100 terms representing the concepts from the lay corpus. The most frequent term variant for each concept is considered the original term. In the course of the extraction of term variants, the main focus was put on knowledge-rich contexts and discourse markers which helped us discover term variants in all their forms (simple terms, complex terms, paraphrases) but also served as a source of relevant conceptual information. Variants of the chosen terms are then grouped together in order to represent the same concept. In the light of the aforementioned arguments, each variant in this research has been studied at two levels. At the linguistic level, we considered all the changes in the form of the term when compared to the form of the original term. At the concept level, we identified the possible shift in the meaning of the term variant when compared to the meaning of the original term. After the final interpretation of all the changes on variants from both registers and at both levels, the variants are then classified into two basic groups, formal or conceptual variants, depending on the type of change at the term and concept level. Through the in-depth analysis of each term variant, and relying on the previous research on term variation with the focus on variant classification (i. e. Daille 2017), we proposed our own classification which took into consideration morphosyntactic specificities of Croatian language. The group of formal variants is further divided into three subgroups of variants – linguistic (oblične varijante), lexical (leksičke varijante), and structural variants (strukturne varijante). The change at the term level in each of the formal variant type did not bring any change in the meaning of the concept they represent. However, conceptual variants demonstrated different degrees of change on the concept level – the meaning of the term is either extended (extrinsic dimensional variants – egzogene dimenzijske varijante) or the focus was put on a different dimension of the concept due to differences in conceptualization or perspective (intrinsic dimensional variants – endogene dimenzijske varijante). The greatest change at the concept level was recognized in the group of intercategorial variants, which broadened the meaning of the original concept either using metaphorical or metonymical mappings or another category. Diachronic variants exhibit a shift in the meaning when compared to the original concept due to development of the concept as the unit of knowledge. Since one of the aims of this research was to discover and describe differences between two registers in Croatian medical written discourse, we conducted a relative quantitative comparison of the variants in both corpora. The comparison revealed differences in the distribution of specialized knowledge to the expert as opposed to the layperson. The differences are evident not only on the term level, in the form of synonymic substitutions, but to a greater extent, on concept level (i. e. in the level of precision and detail in concept representation). The slightly greater tendency towards the usage of more transparent and popular terms was recognized in the lay corpus, although most of the expert corpus variants were confirmed in the lay corpus. The absence of greater differences between the two registers is explained as the result of the science popularization and specialized knowledge adaptation which in modern times presupposes an average educated reader which understands basic medical terms. The results of the research also confirmed the hypothesis on various motivations underlying term choice and its functionality in a discourse. Besides cognitive motivation, which reflects the complex and subjective nature of the process of categorization, and the blurred boundaries of the concept, other motivation factors are defined by communication goals (education, instruction, scientific presentation, etc.) and rhetorical motivation within the discourse. Finally, the hypothesis on the specialized language being the functional register of natural language, inclined to all linguistic changes that affect units of natural language – words – that means, the variability, the flexibility of form according to the context of use and communication goals. Variation in language enriches the language and offers a greater choice of expressions to choose from in order to deliver a clear message according to the expectations and needs of the reader. The results of the research contribute to the development of terminological and terminographical research of Croatian language and specialized language of medicine in particular and confirm the complexity of the yet unexplored topic that has become the center of attention of contemporary terminology. They help to better understand the term variation as the phenomena that should not be avoided even in the specialized discourse but recognized as the possibility to communicate more accurately. The methods applied can be used as the starting point for future research in the topic, and the results of this and all future research can be implemented in terminological resources intended for translators who would appreciate it most.

Item Type: PhD Thesis
Uncontrolled Keywords: Croatian medical terminology, medical language, term variation, framebased terminology, classification of term variants
Subjects: Slavic languages and literatures > Croatian language and literature
Departments: Department of Linguistics
Supervisor: Jelaska, Zrinka
Additional Information: Poslijediplomski doktorski studij lingvistike
Date Deposited: 19 Dec 2018 08:59
Last Modified: 19 Dec 2018 08:59

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