Menendez, Professor Salvio Martin
Universidad de Mar del Plata/Universidad de Buenos Aires

Professor Salvio Martin Menendez
Cuba 2531 2do.B 1428 Capital Federal

Strand: discourse Other


The choice of certain specific words is one of the main resources speakers use as a discourse strategy to achieve a communicative goal. This choice shows how a particular topic is processed cognitively and contextually.

Our investigation is framed in the field of pragmatic discourse analysis (Menendez 1993, 1995) which takes discourse as a basic unit of analysis in an interaction. The methodological tools to account for this analysis are the discoursive strategies speakers use to convey specific meanings and achieve a communicative goal.

In this presentation, I will focus on one grammatical resource that gives rise to different kinds of discourse strategies: the lexicon. We analyze how speakers use specific words in order to reach cognitive and contextual fields leading to the interpretation they make of a particular situation.

Our corpus consists of interviews to different persons around the topic, with a set questionnaire. The topic is AIDS. The questions are the following:

Cual cree usted que es el mejor metodo para prevenir el SIDA?

(What is, in your opinion, the best method to prevent AIDS?)

The data was orally collected in the city of Mar del Plata, Argentina, from April to August, 1993. Three hundred oral interviews were recorded and transcripted. The present communication includes a selection of two hundred interviews. There is also a selected word: PRESERVATIVO (condom) because of its frequency of occurrence (52,15% of the total of the two hundred) in the answers.

We analyzed the answers in accordance with the occurrence of the word as a resource for the discourse strategies involved.

From our data analysis, we were able to draw some main conclusions: a) AIDS is exclusively linked with sexuality and with the idea of unsafe sex. b) knowledge about AIDS shows different levels of precision which vary according with the reproduction people made of what is conveyed by the media, the government or non-governmental organizations. c) knowledge about AIDS is processed according to cognitive and contextual representations of specific knowledge fields stored in each person's memory and experience (for example: family, religion, morality, etc.)


Menendez, S.M. 1993. El problema de la unidad de analisis en las teorias pragmatico-discursivas. Anuario de Linguistica Hispanica. IX:125-136.

Menendez, S.M. 1995. El analisis pragmatico del discurso. En S.M.Menendez (ed.) Cuadernos de Linguistica Nro.1: Analisis pragmatico del discurso: perspectivas, metodos y alcances. Buenos Aires, SIM: 1-15.

van Dijk, T. and Kinstch. W. 1983. Strategies for discourse comprehension. New York, Academic Press.