Applying Corpus Linguistics to health(care) communication


5:00 PM - 6:00 PM


  • Time: 17:00-18:00 CST
  • Date: Wednesday, 13 April
  • Venue: Zhumu (Please contact to join)


Language is central to the practice and provision of healthcare. It mediates how illness is understood, diagnosed and experienced. Effective and sensitive communication improves information-provision, diagnosis, support, self-management and self-esteem; poor or insensitive communication can cause misunderstandings, misdiagnoses, frustration, anxiety, stigma, and even death. In this talk I show how Corpus Linguistics can make a crucial contribution to healthcare research and practice, by making it possible to analyse systematically large datasets by, for or about different stakeholders in healthcare (patients, family carers, and healthcare professionals). Drawing from a series of recent and current projects within the ESRC Centre for Corpus Approaches to Social Science at Lancaster University, I show (a) why corpus linguistic methods are appropriate and needed in research on health(care) communication, (b) how they can be employed, and (c) what they can contribute in terms of research findings and practical applications.


Elena Semino is Professor of Linguistics and Verbal Art in the Department of Linguistics and English Language at Lancaster University, and Director of the ESRC Centre for Corpus Approaches to Social Science. She holds a Visiting Professorship at the University of Fuzhou. She is a Fellow of the RSA and of the UK’s Academy of Social Sciences. She specializes in health communication, medical humanities, corpus linguistics, stylistics, and metaphor theory and analysis. She has (co-)authored over 110 academic publications, including: Metaphor in Discourse (Cambridge University Press, 2008) and Metaphor, Cancer and the End of Life: A Corpus-based Study (Routledge, 2018). Her research has been funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the Newton Fund and the British Academy. In the periods 2011-14 and 2015-18, she was Head of Lancaster University’s Department of Linguistics and English Language, which is consistently ranked in the top 15 Linguistics Department in the world.

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