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Fracturing the Language of Biomedicine: The Speech Play of U. S. Physicians

Anne Burson-Tolpin
Medical Anthropology Quarterly
New Series, Vol. 3, No. 3, The Political Economy of Primary Health Care in Costa Rica, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and El Salvador (Sep., 1989), pp. 283-293
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the American Anthropological Association
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/648645
Page Count: 11
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Fracturing the Language of Biomedicine: The Speech Play of U. S. Physicians
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Abstract

Play with the professional language of biomedicine is endemic in American hospitals. In this article I present a typology of such speech play forms and suggest that biomedical speech play represents an alternative biomedical voice distinct from both that of the lifeworld and that of objective, scientific biomedicine. The voice that speaks through biomedical speech play embodies social and emotional concerns that are devalued in the professional ideology of biomedicine but that cannot be ignored by biomedical practitioners. Biomedical speech play thus presents an alternative (and necessary) reconstruction of biomedical reality.

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