Alena Ruben Ms. Martinez ENC 1102-0111 14 March 2012
Introduction The purpose of my research paper is to explore the different types of literacies dentist’s use. Through my research, I have found sources displaying different mathematical equations, charts/tables, and case studies done to exhibit new evidence of different investigations changing the dental world (Alvarez; Choquet; Dorn; Gianelly; Vertucci) while others explored further into the actual genre and lexical terms dentist must become familiar with (Gordon; Short). These sources have opened my eyes to the amount of hard work and dedication one must put in to conduct these studies and get the information out there so others can learn from it. Other sources have extensively gone into research about genes, rhetorical situations and multilitericies in which I will analyze how they correlate to my topic. I hope to explain further about this issue within my Composition II class Discourse Community John Swales, a professor of linguistics at the University of Michigan defines discourse community as a group of people that
shares goals or purposes and uses communication to achieve them (Swales 471). Swale’s helps students understand the concept of discourse communities and why communication within the community is important. Expanding on Swales’ concept of discourse communities, Anthoney Liddicoat, author of “Communicating within Cultures, Communicating across Cultures, Communicating between Cultures,” asserts that each discourse community has it’s own valued texts and norms of communication which are determined both by the communicative needs of the discourse community and by the patterns of communication found in the particular culture of the writers. He supports this assertion by giving examples of different communication across cultures and how texts differ greatly from other texts found within a culture, while in other cases texts are much more closely associated with ranges from culturally typical texts. After all the readings I have done regarding discourse communities I found this relevant to my life since I grew up in and around dental offices. A dental office has various valued texts and norms, such as policy forms and the lexis they use to communicate. One particular example of a Financial Policy form comes from Miami Lakes Dental Health Care Center from Miami, Florida. The form states, “Our administrative team will work with you to handle your financial needs, however we do require all routine treatment paid in full at the
time of the service. If a financial contract is signed, payment is expected on the agreed due date, outlined in the contract. If a payment billing arrangement is made, the balance of your account is due and payable when the statement is issued, and is past due if not paid within 30 days,” meaning that this office is very strict on when/ how they are paid (1). They want to ensure they get paid immediately by saying things like “require”. Once they make clear that it is necessary to pay before you’re even seen they begin to explain your options. Since this statement was located at the very top of the form I find they value it as most important. Once they make that clear they go on to tell you about the forms of payment and so on. Lexis Discourse communities must communicate through a common language that everyone understands to work as a team. John Swales describes lexis as a specialization that involves using lexical items known to the wider speech communities in special and technical ways (Swales 473). “Most commonly, however, the inbuilt dynamic towards an increasingly shared and specialized terminology is realized through the development of community-specific abbreviations and acronyms” (Swales 473). Swales assert there are six defining characteristics that will be necessary and sufficient for identifying a group of individuals as a discourse community. He supports this assertion by numbering the
six characteristics (having a broadly agreed common set of common public goals, having mechanisms of intercommunications among its members, using its participatory mechanisms primarily to provide information and feedback, utilizing and hence possessed one or more genres in the communicative furtherance of its aims, acquiring some specific lexis, and having a threshold level of members with a suitable degree of relevant content and discoursal expertise) and analyzing them. While Swales covers the actual meaning of Lexis, Jerry Gordon, the author of Understanding Tooth Terminology, relates this lexis to dentistry. He states that the lack of understanding dental terminology used can make some people very uncomfortable during a routine dental visit. He supports this assertion by giving an example that many people find relatable; in most dental offices, after the hygienist cleans your teeth, the dentist comes in for the dental examination. Then, out of nowhere, he or she starts rattling off alpha-numeric jargon like, "3 MOD, 5 DO, 13 MFD", and so on. The article highlights just how different dental talk is from regular talk. Stating, “The numbering system begins with number one and ends with number 32 for adult teeth (children's teeth use a letter system, the 20 teeth beginning with "A" and ending with "T" (1). Tooth number one is the upper-right third molar or wisdom tooth, the farthest tooth back on
the right side of the mouth. Tooth number 16 is the upper-left third molar, also a wisdom tooth,” meaning that dentists have a specific way of communicating with each other in a way that is easier for them to understand. Opposed to them trying to point to teeth or saying “the front one of the left side” the numerical/alphabetic system is straightforward. Genre Lexical terms are categorized together as a genre. Genre can be defined as a set of rules for a particular subject or type of communication however; some sources discredit this and demonstrate how genres are a lot more than static formats. Kenny Dirk, the author of Writing Spaces: Readings on Writing, states that there is more to a genre than simply filling in the blanks. He supports this assertion by using comedy and making a joke about country music. He states that if you rewind a country song you “get your wife back, your job back, your dog back.” If you don’t know a lot about country you probably wouldn’t understand it but if you were familiar with it you’d understand the genre that goes a long with it. For example, country songs tend to tell stories and are usually depressing. His purpose for this is to expand ones definition of genre and to help one start thinking about how genres might apply to your own writing endeavors.
6 Similar to Dirk, Bawarshi, the author of Genre: An introduction
to History, Theory, Research and Pedagogy, believes genres have become increasingly defined as ways of recognizing, responding to, acting meaning- fully and consequentially within, and helping to reproduce recurrent situations. He supports this assertion by claiming that these genres have rhetorical ways of interacting within recurring situations and has had an extreme impact on the study of teaching as well as writing. He states, “Genres shape regularized communicative practices that bind together organizations, institutions, and activity systems,” meaning that the communication that goes on while becoming familiar with a new genre shapes how the community forms (xi). Also the community continues to shape the genres through time, which is why they can’t be viewed as static formats. Although Dirk and Bawarshi helped to redefine the rhetorical nature of genres, Tony Mirabelli, author of Learning to Serve: The Language and Literacy of Food Service Workers further explores this issue by looking at how the genres of a restaurant reflect how the entire restaurant functions. He states, “Assumptions that waitresses (and waiters) are ignorant and stupid and that waiting on tables contributes little to society are not new. The rebuttals to commonplace, pejorative understandings of the food service industry suggest, however, that there is complexity and skill that may go
unrecognized by the general public or institutions such a university’s,” meaning that people may lookover waitressing or any job for instance as being effortless when in reality there’s a lot more that goes on “behind the scenes” that one may not understand unless their placed in the position (540). Genres are these behind the scenes mechanisms that members of a discourse community be familiar with in order to function within the group. While Dirk and Bawarshi provide definitions of genres, Mirabelli’s study gives a concrete example of how these genres are placed in a real life situation. Case Studies Case Studies are conducted in order to get new information out there so others can learn from it. Specific case studies reveal things such as what materials can/cannot work in certain situations. I thought it was necessary to put the case studies I have read in my research paper because they exemplify not only the studies they have to do but the thought process as well as math that goes along with it. Throughout my research I have found sources using math equations, charts/tables to exhibit new evidence (Alvarez, Dorn, Gianelly, Vertucci). More specifically, Alvarez did a case study in which he attempted to find an association between nutritional status and dental caries. His findings suggest that there is an association between nutritional status and dental caries. He supports this assertion through
two different cross-sectional studies one studying 285 children (133 boys and 152 girls ages three to nine) and the second using 1481 children (737 boys and 744 girls ages one to thirteen) all from the same community. Similar to Alvarez’s case study Dorn conducts a study in which he was going to compare the success rates of teeth with three different root end filling materials. He supports this assertion by using SuperEBA, IRM, and zinc-free high-copper spherical amalgam and using radiographs of 488 cases from two geo- graphically distinct offices with the recall period ranging from a minimum of 6 months to a maximum of 10 yr. Although these studies are not directly related they both found valuable information in which other Dentists can utilize. The different types of literatures used in a dental office have been examined by many different authors as well as current dentists. Although these sources have provided me background information on discourse communities, lexis, genres and case studies, they have not given specifics as to how each of these help my specific community, a dental office, function properly. I will be focusing on those concepts.
Methods The question I will explore through my research project is how discourse communities, lexis, genres and case studies help a dental office function properly. I developed this question after reading most of the articles I have found and realized they give broad definitions as to what each of my subtopics mean and what they’re all about but not how they can be used in a real life situation, in this case a dental office. For example, John Swales defines a discourse community as a group of people that shares goals or purposes and uses communication to achieve them while Anthoney Liddicoat, asserts that each discourse community has it’s own valued texts and norms of communication which are determined both by the communicative needs of the discourse community and by the patterns of communication found in the particular culture of the writers. Although they are both correct they don’t give insight as to why a discourse community has valued texts or norms. In order to further explore how these headings contribute to the practical use of a dental office, I will conduct a study to see how they all rely on each other and if one of the headings were missing, there would be no discourse community. I will interview my hygienist, Iradia Reardon of Ira Kotch dental and ask her questions such as how she communicates with her patients, how she communicates with the doctors, different phrases or shorthand she might use and if her office has ever looked over case studies and used them on future patients. By conducting this study I will be able to piece together how my heading work together to help a discourse community run effectively. Genre and Audience
10 Since my project discusses the workings of a dental office, I will use dental
hygenists as my audience. I think it’s important to share my information with the new dental hygenists because by understanding the role that genres play in their new community, newly hired dental hygenists will be better prepared to meet the needs of their community. When dental hygenists first get hiredat the office, they receive a training manual which they must read in order to learn about their job. For this reason, I’m going to use this training manual as the model for the genre that I will present to the dental hygenists. The training manual is a printed paper with large headings, including the headings “What to know on your first day” and “How to get your paycheck.” These headings are bolded and colorful. Underneath the headings, there are short paragraphs that are written in conversational language. These paragraphs address the hygenists as “you” and the office as “your new home,” which may be intended to make the new employees feel welcomed. This is something that I will also try to incorporate into my manual on genres in the dental office. In addition to the bolded headings, the manual uses some quotes from the dentists themselves. It seems like citations are important in this genre, because there are multiple direct quotes that have parenthetical references. The references are always listed at the end of the sentences. There are also footnote citations that appear to be in MLA format. Based on my analysis of the training manual, I will create a similar manual that is written in conversational language, is organized into headings, uses language that helps the new employees feel welcomed, and incorporated both parenthetical and footnote citations.