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Investigating the motivation behind language alternation in the multilingual medical workplace: a study of language practices at King Abdul Aziz Specialist Hospital, Saudi Arabia

Investigating the motivation behind language alternation in the multilingual medical workplace: a study of language practices at King Abdul Aziz Specialist Hospital, Saudi Arabia
Investigating the motivation behind language alternation in the multilingual medical workplace: a study of language practices at King Abdul Aziz Specialist Hospital, Saudi Arabia
This study investigates the use of Language Alternation (LA) between Arabic and English by the employees of King Abdul Aziz Specialist Hospital (KASH) from a socio-cultural perspective in order to explore the motivation behind LA practices in this multilingual medical workplace. There were 75 participants including doctors, nurses, and administrative employees. Most of the participants are Saudis, however some of them are nationals of other Arab countries and others are nonArab, in both cases having different linguistic and cultural backgrounds.
Data for this qualitative study were collected through observations, recording of naturally occurring interactions, and individual semi-structured interviews. The duration of the recorded material is nearly 35 hours.
Using a combination of Interactional Sociolinguistics (Gumperz 1982), Politeness Theory (Brown & Levinson, 1987 and Scollon, et al., 2012), and Accommodation Theory (Giles & Powesland, 1975; Giles, 1973; Giles et al., 1987 and Giles, et al., 1991) as a theoretical framework, the findings from the data were grouped in themes and analysed in order to find out the reasons for and functions of LA.
The results of the analysis indicate that the use of LA among the employees of KASH was generated by two major types of factors: institutional factors, due to which participants appeared to switch from one language to another because of conditions and/or constraints arising from the institutional setting, and cultural factors, which appeared to result in participants alternating between Arabic and English due to certain cultural beliefs and norms delineating cultural differences and overcoming cultural issues arising from the use of a foreign language. The major findings of this study include that LA is used to resolve communication difficulties, to facilitate effective communication using particular technical concepts and expressions, to negotiate power, hierarchy and personal relationships, to avoid using certain Arabic terms that are regarded as sensitive by some listeners, and to preserve the meaning of certain terms and expressions by using them in one particular language rather than the other, especially those regarded as formulaic chunks with specific cultural significance. The study concludes with research implications, implications for medical authorities and educators, and recommendations for future research.
University of Southampton
Almathkuri, Jalal Haris
4447d323-1531-4966-ad07-329ab5323b12
Almathkuri, Jalal Haris
4447d323-1531-4966-ad07-329ab5323b12
Stevenson, Patrick
7b8878de-4a5b-4eaf-88d2-034d9041f41d
Cogo, Alessia
7b7480bb-3823-47c2-a81f-e2dab000e10d

Almathkuri, Jalal Haris (2016) Investigating the motivation behind language alternation in the multilingual medical workplace: a study of language practices at King Abdul Aziz Specialist Hospital, Saudi Arabia. University of Southampton, Doctoral Thesis, 329pp.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)

Abstract

This study investigates the use of Language Alternation (LA) between Arabic and English by the employees of King Abdul Aziz Specialist Hospital (KASH) from a socio-cultural perspective in order to explore the motivation behind LA practices in this multilingual medical workplace. There were 75 participants including doctors, nurses, and administrative employees. Most of the participants are Saudis, however some of them are nationals of other Arab countries and others are nonArab, in both cases having different linguistic and cultural backgrounds.
Data for this qualitative study were collected through observations, recording of naturally occurring interactions, and individual semi-structured interviews. The duration of the recorded material is nearly 35 hours.
Using a combination of Interactional Sociolinguistics (Gumperz 1982), Politeness Theory (Brown & Levinson, 1987 and Scollon, et al., 2012), and Accommodation Theory (Giles & Powesland, 1975; Giles, 1973; Giles et al., 1987 and Giles, et al., 1991) as a theoretical framework, the findings from the data were grouped in themes and analysed in order to find out the reasons for and functions of LA.
The results of the analysis indicate that the use of LA among the employees of KASH was generated by two major types of factors: institutional factors, due to which participants appeared to switch from one language to another because of conditions and/or constraints arising from the institutional setting, and cultural factors, which appeared to result in participants alternating between Arabic and English due to certain cultural beliefs and norms delineating cultural differences and overcoming cultural issues arising from the use of a foreign language. The major findings of this study include that LA is used to resolve communication difficulties, to facilitate effective communication using particular technical concepts and expressions, to negotiate power, hierarchy and personal relationships, to avoid using certain Arabic terms that are regarded as sensitive by some listeners, and to preserve the meaning of certain terms and expressions by using them in one particular language rather than the other, especially those regarded as formulaic chunks with specific cultural significance. The study concludes with research implications, implications for medical authorities and educators, and recommendations for future research.

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Investigating the Motivation behind Language Alternation in the Multilingual Medical Workplace: A Study of Language Practices at King Abdul Aziz Specialist Hospital, Saudi Arabia - Version of Record
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Published date: August 2016

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 417871
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/417871
PURE UUID: 20844119-c93f-4431-848a-2faac3ad7b06

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Date deposited: 15 Feb 2018 17:31
Last modified: 13 Mar 2019 18:57

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Contributors

Author: Jalal Haris Almathkuri
Thesis advisor: Patrick Stevenson
Thesis advisor: Alessia Cogo

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