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In this contribution I will analyse how medical students in their 5th year explain medical terms to simulated patients (SP) and which functions fulfil their inserted descriptions
in the explanation process. Two simulated doctor-patient conversations selected from a corpus of 273 conversations constitute the object of my study. They were videotaped in the training module Translating medical terminology in everyday language, constituting part of a simulation training (PJ-STArT-Block) for medical students at Cologne University. The analysing tools employed are the functional pragmatic approach to discourse and, more specifically, the speech action patterns “explaining” and “describing” as well as aspects from
conversation analysis regarding the role of the hearer. First, I will discuss how and to what extent the students’ and the SP’s general speech mode is influenced by the simulation itself.
Then, I will analyse two exemplary transcribed excerpts of the exchanges, focussing primarily on the speaker. I will demonstrate that the addressees of the descriptions that introduce or interrupt an explanation are not primarily the hearers but actually the speakers themselves who need this communication phase to activate, to structure and to phrase their knowledge. In the conclusion I will recommend further linguistic research particularly on SP’s speech in simulated consultations.