Author: Fung, Ka Chun
Title: Analysing Cantonese doctor-patient communication : a semantic network approach
Degree: Ph.D.
Year: 2019
Subject: Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Communication in medicine -- China -- Hong Kong
Medical personnel and patient -- China -- Hong Kong
Cantonese dialects
Chinese language -- Semantics
Department: Department of English
Pages: 455 pages : color illustrations
Language: English
Abstract: This study is about healthcare communication, or more precisely about the reciprocal relations of language and society, with a multi-phenomenal focus spanning four pressing research needs: (i) the practical research demand in conducting healthcare communication in the Hong Kong context; (ii) the theoretical need in upholding Halliday's notion of register; (iii) the descriptive and analytical inadequacy in traditional Cantonese research; and (iv) the internal and external pressures in developing Cantonese message semantic networks. Against these research rationales, this current study takes Hong Kong hospital emergency department (ED) as the institutional setting of investigation, aiming at describing the semantics of medical behaviour in ED medical consultation. Featuring Halliday's Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL) as the theoretical foundation and Hasan's message semantic networks as the major descriptive framework, this study analyses the ten patient journeys in three distinct phases. Phase I concerns the development of Cantonese message semantic networks, following Hasan (1983). Phase II turns to an exploration of the registerial meaning of doctor-patient communication through Hasan's Generic Structure Potential (GSP) analysis, focusing on the intrinsic relations among context, meaning and structure <1>. The academic endeavour in these two-specific phases has made three major fronts of contributions. First, descriptively, the systemic engagement in these phases yields a rich description of meaning of ED medical consultation in the social context of Cantonese community — as product (i.e. meaning as a cross-stratal calibration represented in system networks); as process (i.e. meaning as healthcare practices); as function (i.e. meaning as semantic features); as form (i.e. meaning as lexicogrammatical realisations); as structure (i.e. meaning as sequence of generic elements); and as art (i.e. meaning as individual autonomy). Second, theoretically, the study contributes to what I term as Cantonese Appliable Discourse Analysis (CADA), an emerging field of investigation in Cantonese linguistics which, as evident in the literature, has not been readily taken up by traditional (formal) grammarians/linguists. Third, systemically, the proposed Cantonese message semantic networks complement the traditions of functional semantics and language typological studies in the Cantonese language system. More specifically, the contextually-open semantic description, though it is far from language exhaustive, is linguistically 'appliable', which could serve as an important discourse tool in pursuing the research studies within CADA. <1> Originally, a Phase III analysis was intended to carry out so as to demystify the healthcare discursive practices through the interim product of Phase I. It was hoped that the Phase III findings would illustrate how the acts of meaning between doctors and patients are realised semantically as clusters of semantic attributes, contributing to our understanding of the interaction at work. Regrettably, at the time of the final stage of my study, I was unfortunately involved in some external affairs through which I had to give up the Phase III under some pointing and mistaken attacks and exclusions within and beyond the academic circles. I confess, the quality of the final thesis is a bit less satisfactory and the theoretical arguments remain a bit weak. Yet, it is still a presentable work with its own academic values in terms of its alternative theoretical and descriptive insights. Unfortunate as it was, these brutal attacks, as I see it now, add additional semiotic flavour - both ideational and interpersonal - to my journey of doctoral degree, offering me insights in understanding the nature of semiotic power.

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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: https://theses.lib.polyu.edu.hk/handle/200/9929