Literacy Skills in the Language of Medicine:The Layman’s Survival Strategy
Chinelo J. Ezekulie, Nigeria Television College, .105 and
Chinyere H. Maduabuchi, Ebonyi State University, Abakaliki

Understanding the language variety used in certain fields of endeavour may not matter much to an “outsider” but in medicine. where safety is at a premium, it certainly does .Undoubtedly, a vast majority of laymen find it very difficult to understand health information owing to its complex terminology. The thrust of this paper is to x-ray the linguistic features that underlie medical language wit/1 a view to revealing how the knowledge of linguistic forms could be employed in making medical write—ups more assessable to laymen. The significance of this exercise is underscored
by the fact that every living person is a stakeholder in health matters. A survey of the language of medicine in selected Nigerian medical journals reveals that medical terms have complex internal structure composed of meaningful units used interchangeable in a recurrent fashion As such, the magic wand, as it were, for comprehending the terms is the internalization of a working knowledge of how to take the components apart as a gateway to glen/ting their meanings. This could be done by anybody with linguistic know—how. Based on the foregoing, the writer contends that, in line with the global campaign for literacy in every sphere of life, laymen should avail themselves of every opportunity to understand medical language be it in their doctors ‘offices or via the mass media.

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