Conversation Analysis

4. CA and the Medical Encounter

Lexical Choice

Turns are, of course, made of words, and word selection is a significant feature of turn design. Thus patients may elect to formulate time references in terms of calendrical 'clock' time, or in biographical terms.

Example 7

In the following well-known example, the patient has disclosed extensive and regular drinking prior to going to bed (Mishler, 1984):

Here the patient's use of a biographical reference point in her response to the physician's questions first question clearly implicates her marriage as a causal factor in her drinking, though without saying so explicitly. The clinician pursues a quantitative estimate in his second question, and the patient complies with a calendrical formulation ("Four years.").

Mishler E. (1984). The discourse of medicine: Dialectics of medical interviews. Norwood NJ: Ablex.