This paper deals with the analysis of linguocultural types in medical myths which contribute to the understanding of cultural dominants of the behaviour of representatives of the linguocultural society. The objective of the research is the description of conceptual, figurative, perceptual and evaluative characteristics of the linguocultural type “eccentric doctor” in medical myths. The goal determined the use of Karasik’s linguocultural approach to modelling linguocultural types. Dmitrieva expands this model by adding a sociocultural reference, which contains information about the period of existence of the modelled type. We hypothesize that the linguocultural type “eccentric doctor” can be described using the three-stage model to identify the stereotyped characteristics. While analyzing characteristics of the linguocultural type “eccentric doctor” using the three-stage model, the analysis of speech, mental and psychological specifics of Dr. House was carried out. On the example of Dr. House, it is shown that this linguocultural type uses aphorisms, which are full of sarcasm and practical wisdom. He uses well-turned phrases that concisely express the original idea. He has to treat not only diseases but also the mental wounds of patients. We conclude that the main characteristics of the linguocultural type “eccentric doctor” are his distinct identity, sense of humour, cynicism about personal patient’s history, deductive approach to severe clinical cases.
Keywords: Axiological componentconceptlinguocultural typemedical mythprototypestereotype
Linguocultural types in medical myths are the object of the study of psychology, sociology, linguistics and cultural linguistics. The description of linguocultural types in medical myths is the vital problem of the research at present, which is analyzed for cultural linguistics and
A linguocultural type in a medical myth is the means of a study of “naïve” medical worldview, of people’s mentality, in as much as it puts emphasis, on the one hand, on the cultural and diagnostic significance of the typed personality for an understanding of the particular culture, on the other – on the study of this personality for linguistics, taking into consideration the description of the corresponding concept, represented in the language (Karasik & Dmitrieva, 2005, p. 22).
Linguocultural types in medical myths influence “naïve” medical worldview of the patient, which contributes to moulding the patient’s adequate social behaviour and increasing the level of his medical culture and to the realization of goals of medical activity and its effectiveness.
The theoretical understanding of the representation of linguocultural type “eccentric doctor” in medical myths is vital as it is the generalization of stereotyped notions about the typed personality of the eccentric doctor, with which the representative of the linguocultural society associates him consciously or unconsciously (Karasik, 2009, p. 183). Specific typological characteristics of the linguocultural type of “eccentric doctor” are represented in medical myths. However, they have not been systemized yet.
Stereotyped characteristics of the linguocultural type “eccentric doctor” include axiological components, according to which the linguocultural type moulds his behaviour. These axiological components represent the profound characteristics of culture (Karasik, 2009, p. 183). Axiological components of the linguocultural type “eccentric doctor” and their influence on the attitude of doctors towards patients are of particular interest for our research.
The linguocultural type “eccentric doctor” can be described employing the three-stage model of the linguocultural type with the indication of his conceptual, figurative, perceptual and evaluative characteristics.
Purpose of the Study
The objective of the research is the description of the linguocultural type “eccentric doctor” in medical myths on the example of the TV series “House, M. D.”. The objective of the research determines the following problems:
1. description of scientific approaches to the study of the notion “linguocultural type”;
2. analysis of lexicographic interpretation of the notion “doctor” in English Explanatory dictionaries;
3. description of the three-stage modelling of the linguocultural type “eccentric doctor”.
The objective and purpose of the study determined the choice of the following research methods:
descriptive and analytical methods allow the description of the existing scientific concepts, determination and definition of the basic characteristics of the notion “linguocultural type”;
linguocultural analysis is used for the description of the linguocultural type “eccentric doctor”;
contextual method is applied for the analysis of the context, which contains representations of characteristics of the linguocultural type “eccentric doctor”.
The works of scientists on linguocultural types served as a starting point for the analysis of the linguocultural type “eccentric doctor”. The works of scientists of Volgograd research school carried out under the supervision of Karasik such as Dmitrieva (Linguocultural type “Russia and France”) (Dmitrieva, 2007), Yarmakhova (Linguocultural type “English eccentric”) (Karasik & Yarmahova, 2006), as well as the works of other representatives of this school, are of particular significance.
Karasik (2009), the founder of the theory about linguocultural types, defines this notion as the typed personality of the representative of a particular ethnic-social group, recognized by specific characteristics of verbal and nonverbal behaviour and his axiological orientation (p. 245).
Vasilyeva (2010) determines the linguocultural type as the basic national and cultural prototype of the native speaker, fixed in the language and distinguished based on relevant characteristics, typical features of verbal and nonverbal behaviour of specific language personalities (p. 8).
The following features characterize linguocultural types: a) wide recognition, b) recurrence, c) associativity, d) symbolism, e) intensity, f) typicality, g) precedence (Dmitrieva, 2007, p. 83–85).
Karasik (2009) introduces the notion “semantic distinctions” of the linguocultural type. The essential semantic distinctions of the notion “linguocultural type” include typability of a particular personality, the significance of this personality for culture, presence of axiological components in the concept, which fixes this personality, the possibility of his actual or fictitious existence, the possibility of his specification in the real-life individual or character of the work of fiction, the possibility of his simplified or caricature representation, the possibility of his description using sociolinguistic and linguocultural analyses (p. 191).
Reznik (2013) classifies types from the perspective of content, semantic specifics and the degree of their significance in cultural space. From the point of content and semantic characteristics, linguocultural types are divided into social, typical and ideological. Social ones are characterized by the association with a particular kind of activity, profession, social status (for example, “English butler”); typical ones represent groups of personalities, endowed by common features and social attitudes (for example, “English eccentric”); ideological ones reflect the set of views and ideas, in which the attitude of people towards reality and each other is evaluated (for example, “English revolutionary”) (p. 481).
Karasik traces the correlation of the notions “linguocultural type”, “linguocultural concept” and “stereotype” (Karasik & Yarmahova, 2006). Axiology of the linguocultural concept “doctor” includes eternal cultural axiological components – struggle for life and health of people, mercy. Doctor (as a generalized image) is associated with a positive result – maintenance and improvement of human health: “Doctor is meant to relieve suffering and treat illnesses” (Veresaev, 2019, p. 175).
The linguocultural type “eccentric doctor” is characterized by stereotypical characteristics, which include axiological components, according to which the type moulds his behaviour. In contrast with the stereotype, the linguocultural type is associated with the real-life personality or the fictitious personality as the concept (Karasik & Yarmahova, 2006, p. 51).
Furthermore, it is worthwhile considering the notion “myth about doctors” in the context of the present analysis. The notion “myth about doctors” is defined as commonly-held beliefs about the generalized image of a doctor, existing in the linguocultural society and which are perceived as evident.
Veresaev, in his work “Doctor’s Notes”, the reference book of medical graduates, which was written more than a century ago, creates the image of a doctor of that time. The author suggests the typology of mythological representations of the doctor’s image, which is relevant nowadays.
The myth about the fact that the doctor, not knowing the disease, treats the patient to determine based on treatment results whether he should be treated for this disease. In medicine there is a term “ex juvantibus” (which means to make a diagnosis based on what helps to relieve the symptoms of the disease): the patient is administered a specific treatment. If it helps, the patient is ill with this disease (Veresaev, 2019, p. 37).
The myth about the fact that the doctor is stale and greedy. He sees in patients’ suffering only a possibility to receive payment for treatment. According to Veresaev (2019), gratuitousness should be the basis of the doctor’s activity (p. 256).
While making a model of the linguocultural type “eccentric doctor” in a medical myth, we proceed from the fact that the linguocultural type is featured by conceptual, figurative, perceptual and evaluative characteristics. Karasik (2009) and Dmitrieva (Karasik & Dmitrieva, 2005) give the theoretical bases of this modelling process. Karasik suggests modelling linguocultural types according to a specific procedure, which can be presented according to the scheme:
Description of the conceptual content of the considered type based on the analysis of essential characteristics;
Determination of associative characteristics of the considered type in individual linguistic consciousness;
Determination of evaluative characteristics of the given type in self-representation and representation of other social cultures (Karasik & Dmitrieva, 2005).
Dmitrieva expands this model by adding a sociocultural reference, which contains information about the period of existence of the modelled type. A sociocultural reference for making a model of the linguocultural type includes an indication of the typical appearance, clothes, attributes; inhabitancy; description of speech, manner of behaviour; ritual action, sphere of activity; leisure activity, social circle; financial status, origin, age (Dmitrieva, 2007, p. 87–89).
It is therefore worthwhile considering characteristics of the linguocultural type “eccentric doctor” in the context of the present analysis.
Before describing the linguocultural type “eccentric doctor”, which takes a specific place in the American linguoculture, it is worth analyzing the notion “doctor” and its lexicographic interpretation, choosing explanatory dictionaries as necessary resources.
DOCTOR (noun) 1a
DOCTOR (noun) 1. Someone whose job is to treat people who are ill or injured. When written as a title, the abbreviation of doctor is Dr. A doctor who performs medical operations is called a surgeon; A doctor who treats people in an area or town is called a GP; The most senior type of doctor in a hospital is called a consultant. Someone being treated by a doctor or nurse is called a patient
2. Someone who had the highest degree given by a university:
DOCTOR (noun) 1 (the title of) a person who has been trained in and practices medical science:
The analysis of the entries shows that all the dictionaries fix the following meanings of the notion “doctor”: 1) human, 2) practices medicine, 3) treats ill people, 4) has a higher university degree and a license, 5) has the appropriate skills.
The most objective characteristic of the considered concept is constant activity (treatment of patients). The conceptual characteristic is rather vague. It is not defined in the dictionary entries what methods the doctor should use to treat his patients and whether he should treat them since there are no indications of successful treatment in any of the entries (Table
To determine conceptual characteristics of the linguocultural type “eccentric doctor” on the first stage, it is worth considering its sociocultural reference (Dmitrieva, 2007).
The first stage of modelling the linguocultural type follows. Given data allow revealing the conceptual characteristics of the linguocultural type of “eccentric doctor”: 1) middle-aged man, 2) has a higher university degree, 3) from a middle-class background, 4) lives rather ascetically (by American standards), rents a flat, 5) has outstanding mental abilities, 6) uses deductive reasoning in disease treatment, 7) uses medical terms, elliptical constructions, abbreviations in his speech, 8) plays jokes on his colleagues, 9) prone to eccentric behaviour.
The second stage of modelling the linguocultural type “eccentric doctor” consists of the determination of his figurative and perceptual characteristics. The most essential figurative and perceptual characteristics of the linguocultural type “eccentric doctor” are as follows:
1) This type looks like a middle-aged man, careless in his clothes, avoids putting on a medical gown to prevent patients from identifying him as a doctor and pleading for consultations. He does not keep to the schedule and rules of behaviour at the medical institution. This type always tries to avoid meeting patients, tries to spend a working day in his office and leave the hospital as soon as the working day is over. However, he is not indifferent to the patient’s destiny. He likes passing the time reading magazines, watching medical TV series, but when it comes to treating a clinical case – he is unreplaceable.
2) He is an experienced specialist, ready to risk and take responsibility when he treats severe cases. Despite his dislike of work, he quickly comes to the clinic at night, when there is a real necessity. He often starts treatment in the process without confirmation of the initial diagnosis (there is no time for it).
3) He saves lives, but he communicates with patients sarcastically. Hence his patients are often dissatisfied with his attitude towards them, and they either go to court or complain about him to the head of the clinic. The head of the clinic in the conversation with him threatens to give him the sack, but she cannot do it because he is the best diagnostician in the clinic.
On the third stage of modelling the linguocultural type “eccentric doctor” evaluative characteristics are considered. On the one hand, patients disapprove of his rude approach to diagnostics. They feel themselves “guinea pigs” during the process of treatment until he finds the clue. On the other hand, they appreciate his sense of humour, as well as his ability to treat diseases, difficult to diagnose.
As for colleagues, they treat him with great respect. Thus, his friend and his colleague Dr. Wilson appreciate his deductive abilities in the treatment of diseases:
“You’re such a renowned diagnostician. You don’t need to actually know anything to figure out what’s wrong” (Singer, 2004).
Cuddy (his boss), frustrated with his lack of work ethics, decides to go to extreme measures to get him back into the habit of working in the hospital:
“I can still fire you if you’re not doing your job. Your billings are practically nonexistent” (Singer, 2004).
Thus, the detected evaluative components allow determining the way the type is perceived by others and considering the reason for such perception.
For determining characteristics of the linguocultural type “eccentric doctor” on the three stages of modelling, the analysis of speech, mental and psychological specifics of Dr. House was carried out. In his speech, Dr. House uses aphorisms, which are full of sarcasm and practical wisdom. He uses well-turned phrases that concisely express the original idea. He has to treat not only diseases but also the mental wounds of patients. For example, in “The Itch” episode Stewart, the patient of Dr. House was admitted to the hospital because he had fainted. He was afraid of leaving his house. Several years ago his girl-friend was killed, but he escaped an assassination attempt. Dr. House understood that he felt miserable. He advised him not to lock himself up and pretend he was happy:
In “Unwritten” episode Alice Tanner, the author of popular detective stories, was admitted to the hospital after she had made an unsuccessful attempt to commit suicide. The treatment was complicated by the fact that the patient was concealing something from medical workers. She concealed the fact that she had had a 15-year old car crash. She damaged her thyroid gland in the car crash when the shoulder strap cut into her neck. Her son Jack was with her in the car. She accused herself of his death. Dr. House reassured her that it was not her fault as he had had a brain aneurism. That is why he crashed. Dr. House shared her emotional pain:
The analysis of mental and psychological specifics of Dr. House showed his resemblance to Sherlock Holmes throughout the series as he relies on deductive reasoning method in eliminating diagnoses logically, which proved impossible. Besides, the name of Dr. House is a pun on Holmes (“homes”). For example, in “Pilot” episode, Rebecca Adler, a kindergarten teacher, was admitted to the hospital as she had fainted during the lesson. Rebecca Adler is named after Irene Adler, one of the most notable female characters in the Sherlock Holmes series, who gained Holmes’ unbounded admiration. Dr. House tried to find the reason for her strange deteriorating health. Several diseases manifested themselves in this way, so it was challenging to make the initial diagnosis. After numerous manipulations, he made the right diagnosis (she had tapeworms in her brain), he said:
We could get an idea of the linguocultural type “eccentric doctor” in medical myths. This research is based on the three-stage model of the description of the linguocultural type, suggested by Karasik. The described model allowed defining conceptual, figurative, perceptual and evaluative characteristics of the linguocultural type “eccentric doctor”. While considering these characteristics, we performed the analysis of speech, mental and psychological specifics of Dr. House. The analysis showed that the main characteristics of the linguocultural type “eccentric doctor” are his distinct identity, sense of humour, cynicism about personal patient’s history, deductive approach to severe clinical cases.
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27 February 2021
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National interest, national identity, national security, public organizations, linguocultural identity, linguistic worldview
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Stepanova, E. S. (2021). Linguocultural Type “Eccentric Doctor” In Medical Myths. In I. Savchenko (Ed.), National Interest, National Identity and National Security, vol 102. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 983-991). European Publisher. https://doi.org/10.15405/epsbs.2021.02.02.122