Language and medicine



Publication Details

Moore, A. Rotha. (2019). Language and medicine. In G. Thompson, W. L. Bowcher, L. Fontaine & D. Schonthal (Eds.), The Cambridge handbook of systemic functional linguistics (pp. 651-689). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


From early in its development Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL) has drawn on and contributed to the study of medical discourse (e.g. Halliday et al. 2007) and it was in the context of language and medicine in the 1970s that J. R. Martin first developed his work on discourse semantics (Martin 2014). Since then there has been a steady stream of theses and articles using SFL concepts and techniques to study the language of medicine. Yet, to the best of my knowledge, this work has never been brought together into a monograph, special issue, or edited collection, and research in this area has not yet gained the profile of a recognized specialism within SFL in the way that fields of application such as education or child language development have done. An important consideration here is that research on medical discourse has lacked the coordination of other major applications of SFL, which has affected the amount of work done, the degree to which initial projects are followed up, and the impact of such work and its visibility.

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