I am ... , I have ... , I suffer from ... : A Linguist Reflects on the Language of Illness and Disease

Abstract

Part personal documentary, part exercise in medical semantics, this essay brings the analytical tools of a linguist and the human perspective of a patient receiving treatment in the American health care system to bear on the language we use—for the most part unconsciously—to talk about illness and disease. Topics to be explored include linguistic ramifications of the illness/disease distinction; referring expressions for health disorders; the “linguistic construction” of disease (what's in a name?); the “translation” of biomedical information from the specialists' dialect into everyday idiom; and the metaphoric/symbolic dimension of body-parts and their afflictions.

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Fleischman, S. I am ... , I have ... , I suffer from ... : A Linguist Reflects on the Language of Illness and Disease. Journal of Medical Humanities 20, 3–32 (1999). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1022918132461

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Keywords

  • Health Care
  • Health Care System
  • Analytical Tool
  • Human Perspective
  • Biomedical Information