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Communication and Medicine

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Global and local alignments in HIV/AIDS prevention trainings: A case study from Burkina Faso

*Address for correspondence: University of Bayreuth, GW I, D-95440 Bayreuth, Germany.

Citation Information: Communication. Volume 4, Issue 1, Pages 3–14, ISSN (Online) 1613-4087, ISSN (Print) 0341-2059, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/CAM.2007.002, August 2007

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This article presents a linguistic analysis of data from an ongoing research project exploring HIV/AIDS education in West African Burkina Faso. I argue that we can identify different, sometimes even competing, discourses about the disease in prevention interactions. Thus, communication about HIV/AIDS in Burkina Faso—and probably in most of the Sub-Saharan countries—might be characterized by what I will call, with reference to Bakhtin, discursive heteroglossia. There is clear evidence of such discursive heteroglossia, that is, the participants' alignment to local and global HIV discourses, deployed in the communication of health workers. In my analysis of peer educators training sessions, I draw on theoretical and methodological principles from discourse analysis and interactional linguistics. I focus on the linguistic devices and conversational strategies the participants use to indicate the relevance of the local or the global discourses. Three particular devices—namely, metaphors, epistemic and evidential markers, and word explanations—will be examined in a more detailed way. I will also show how the local and the global interweave at different levels of prevention discourse.

Keywords: HIV/AIDS prevention; health education; local and global discourses; West African French; metaphor; modalization

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