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Paper Details

Pronominal Forms Used to Address Patients: A Comparative Study of German and Bosnian Language

Minka Džanko

Journal Title:Društvene i humanističke studije DHS (Social Sciences and Humanities Studies)

The comparative studies of pronominal forms of address in German and Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian (up to the 1990s Serbo-Croatian) have so far shown the complexity of this linguistic and social phenomenon (Rathmayr 1992; Betsch/Berger 009; Schlund 2009). The focus of research in this comparative study lies on pronominal forms used to address patients in authentic medical encounters. In this study I consider and compare the forms of address in medical consultations as well as identify their pragmatic use by contrasting the Bosnian and German data. My research draws on interactional data consisting of 44 audiotaped and transcribed conversations between the Bosnian and German doctors and patients. The data was examined and compared by using a qualitative CA data analysis method. The Bosnian data showed that physicians use different forms to address their patients such as: T-pronoun, V-pronoun, and an alternating use of both pronouns to address the same patient within one single conversation (so-called switching). In the German doctor-patient encounters, the use of the T-pronoun or the alternating use of both forms of address was only observed in case of one physician. Unlike the German patients, the Bosnian patients are being addressed in a more informal way, and depending on the context, certain forms of address go beyond expressing politeness and distance. The comparison of data, based on natural institutional interaction, aims to highlight contemporary tendencies and interactive differences in the system of address of these two European languages.