Pilot study: Politeness Strategies in selected Doctor-Patient Interactions in Ibadan Private Hospitals

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International Journal of Research and Innovation in Social Science (IJRISS) | Volume IV, Issue VIII, August 2020 | ISSN 2454–6186

Pilot study: Politeness Strategies in selected Doctor-Patient Interactions in Ibadan Private Hospitals

David Olorunsogo

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Department of English, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria

Abstract: The professional side and social side of medical discourse have been recognized by scholars. Scholarship in the Nigerian Medical Context has geared towards the professional side until recently that the social side is given attention. Earlier researches that have investigated politeness within the Nigerian context of medical discuss have not given primacy to private hospital. This paper is a pilot study to investigate how Politeness Strategies are deployed in Doctor-Patient interactions in private hospitals in Ibadan. With specific objectives of investigating how doctors employ politeness strategies in eliciting information from patients; investigating the kind of face wants of patients in doctor-patients interactions; examining the asymmetry between doctors and patients. It was been discovered that doctors mostly make use of bald on-record strategies with older patients and more of positive politeness strategies with children. Patients, employ positive politeness strategy and negative politeness as demanded by the emerging context of interaction.

Keywords: Medical Discourse, Politeness, Strategies, Private Hospital, Ibadan


According to Brown and Yule (1983), there are two basic functions, language performs, and they are transactional and interactional functions. The function is transactional when language is used to convey information, and it is interactional when language is used as a means of social relation maintenance.
Yule (1995:59) furthers that “much of what we say…is determined by our social relationships”. Language is used among people, in different societies, institutions and contexts. This is where language and discourse becomes intertwined. According to Roy (2000), “Discourse is the language as it is actually uttered by people engaged in social interaction to accomplish a goal.” A particular focus on language use, discourse as function.
Johnston and Schembri (2007) further that “Discourse…has coherent meaning for someone who knows the language…language in use, and how context determines meaning.” In discourse, there are linguistic choices made by interactants to ensure a smooth conversation. Such linguistic choices to be examined in this study, is politeness strategies. Yule (1996) opines that in conversations, there are variables considered by people “whether consciously or sub-consciously, that help them determine the form that their speech will take”.