Today I am writing from Madrid where I am in the midst of my second research stay of the year, this time with the Centro Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC). The CSIC is the largest research center in Spain and the third largest in Europe. It is multidisciplinary and seeks to “develop and promote research that will help bring about scientific and technological progress”. Specifically, I am working from the Centro de Ciencias Humanas y Sociales in the department of language and discourse analysis.
What does this have to do with teaching medical Spanish?
The goal of my research stay is to analyze literature on Latin American dialectology and lexicology, extracting all the variants related to the medical field as well as other relevant information. As I have previously discussed in this blog, lexical variants are used in clinic on the part of Latino patients and have the ability to negatively impact doctor-patient communication if misunderstandings cannot be easily resolved. This reality is further complicated by that fact that many lexical variants are not included in medical or Spanish-English dictionaries. Additionally, there is not a catalog of these non-standard terms that could be used by professionals in resolving doubts or by Spanish for healthcare instructors in deciding what language to teach. For example, should instructors teach every word that has occurred in the medical setting for cheek (mejilla, cachete, chete, pómulo, carrillo), just a couple (and if so, which ones), or only one? As I discussed in a post last June, this decision should be made based on the frequency of use of each term. However, without a resource that offers this information, the decision ends up being made based on the knowledge and experience of the instructor.
Therefore, my research is looking to create such a catalog that includes the indicators of frequency, importance and country of origin (among others). As you remember, part of this study is being carried out via a survey while another part is being carried out via this literature review, the bulk of which I hope to carry out at here at the CSIC.
Nevertheless, so as not to leave you without anything new or educational, I would like to share a couple of links to articles that I find interesting on dialect variants in the medical setting:
“Muestra de léxico panhispánico: el cuerpo humano” by Elizabeth Luna Traill