The lexical-syntactic defects in scientific communication: incidence in the linguistic image of professionals


The lexical-syntactic defects in scientific communication: incidence in the linguistic image of professionals

Los vicios léxico-sintácticos en la comunicación científica: incidencia en la imagen lingüística de los profesionales


Eugenio Jesús López Gómez1*
Lisvette Cruz Camacho1
Mercedes Garcés Pérez2


1Villa Clara University of Medical Sciences. Cuba.
2"Marta Abreu" Central University of Las Villas. Villa Clara. Cuba.


*Author for correspondence. Email:


Submitted: 03/04/2018
Accepted: 21/01/2019




There is evidently a widespread and observed problem among professionals related to a basic professional competence: linguistic communication; the authors have investigated the issue and present examples on how lexical and syntactic levels are essentially affected; some substitutes are proposed to avoid lexical impropriety and clichés because they provoke a tainted, tedious and monotonous atmosphere in the communication as evidence of impoverishment of vocabulary, which reveals a deformed linguistic image. It´s another action aimed at the reflection and communication improvement of these professionals.

MeSH: professional competence, communication, education, medical.


Existe una problemática evidentemente generalizada y observada entre los profesionales relacionada con una competencia profesional básica: la comunicación lingüística; los autores han indagado sobre el asunto y exponen ejemplos de cómo se afectan esencialmente los niveles léxico y sintáctico; se proponen algunos sustitutos para evitar la impropiedad léxica y los clichés porque provocan una atmósfera viciada, tediosa y monótona en la comunicación como evidencia de empobrecimiento del vocabulario, lo cual pone de manifiesto una deformada imagen lingüística. Significa esta otra acción dirigida a la reflexión y perfeccionamiento comunicativo de estos profesionales.

DeSC: competencia profesional, comunicación, educación médica.



For some years, the authors of this research paper have made linguistic diagnoses in the professionals of the Nursing and Health Technology Faculty from their scientific researches; and on the basis of these results they have developed actions: lectures, workshops, postgraduate courses and have disseminated the subject in publications;(1,2) all in order to promote the correct use of scientific language. On this occasion, and following up on their studies, they consider it necessary to refer to the incidence of the lexical-syntactic defects expressed in scientific communication in the linguistic image of health professionals.

According to Texidor et al., cited by Padrón et al.:(3) "The defects of language, together with carelessness and haste when writing, always act to the detriment of the quality of writing. Haste and carelessness are twin brothers, but their close kinship with ignorance, negligence and irresponsibility makes them fearsome enemies and very dangerous for the medical sciences...".

The transfer of the concept of image to the professional sphere includes the intellectual. Fernández Gutiérrez(4) expresses that the image of a profession is constructed from the perspective of knowledge that society and other disciplines have of it, according to the identity signals that its professionals transmit; that is, it is not enough for it to have a good image of its profession, if it is not socially recognized and conceived in accordance with it; it is not constrained by personal appearance, but as a complement to abilities and attitude, which is also expressed through verbal language.

Undoubtedly having oral and written skills projects an adequate professional image. Íñigo et al. (5) consider that the competence concept "... includes a whole set of knowledge, procedures and attitudes combined, coordinated and integrated, in the sense that the individual must know how to do and know how to be for the professional practice". The mastery of this knowledge makes it: "... capable of acting effectively in professional situations".

According to Gómez Rojas:(6) "Professional skills have become of interest in universities to achieve the ideal professional with the ability to communicate." (...) In Cuban medical education, this term has been closely linked to postgraduate activity to generate another term of great relevance and international relevance: university quality. (...) directly refers to the skills and abilities of a person that are necessary to develop through training".

In summary, professional competences:

  • They are capacities, knowledge, and / or essential skills for successful performance.
  • Several are acquired in general education, but the university professional must be trained, perfected, during a constant training process (postgraduate).
  • A basic professional competence is linguistic communication, oral and written.

According to Ramírez Paso, cited by López et al.:(1) "... communicative competence is the attitude of an individual to perform the same productive function in different contexts (...), it is achieved through the acquisition and development of knowledge, skills and attitudes expressed in knowing, doing and knowing how to do".

On the other hand, Domínguez(7) refers that in the linguistic competence: "To express oneself correctly is the objective of all those who wish to be communicatively competent. This implies avoiding vicious utterances; to use in the organization of thought the cohesion resources and the linguistic means that help to achieve coherence as property, the beginning of any discourse". While López Gómez et al.,(1) even if they relate to the definition of the term itself will provide elements that must be taken into account to achieve it: "(...) it is essential to develop multiple skills for oral and written expression; both forms are subjected to laws of the linguistic science, grammatical and orthographic rules, in addition to the precise use of the lexicon ... ". And they warn about the need for its mastery: "... many professionals who use the word to carry out their work, do not take into account this axiom maybe they are not aware of what it means to express themselves and communicate correctly, or due to carelessness or disinterest".

Reviewing scientific texts some shortcomings affecting linguistic communication have been identified, essentially in the lexicon-vocabulary-and syntax -order and organization of words which are listed below:

Lexical incorrectness. (Words used with meanings different from the one they have):

  • Collegiate: enroll a person in a professional school. (It is used for negotiating, agreeing, reaching consensus.)
  • Comic: that is related to comedy. (It is used for modern, sophisticated.)
  • Gestate: to carry the product of conception. (Used for managing.)
  • Visualize: imagine with visible features something that is not in view. Ex: "From now on I can visualize his expression when he finds out". (It is used to look, see, directly observe objects and phenomena).

Lexicons not recognized by the Royal Spanish Academy:

  • Monitor: Anglicism, it has equivalents in Spanish: control, verify, follow ..., there is monitoring (installing monitors for surveillance and control).
  • Tutoring: there is a tutor (tutoring, tutoree).
  • Open: there is the noun opening, not the infinitive, used by: open, start, open.
  • Tarjetear: is used for planning, thinking, conceiving. There is a card (exchange cards).
  • Intentional: is used for recommending, promoting, persuading, suggesting, guiding, driving.

Are they neologisms?

Neologisms appear by fashions or new lexical needs. The authors agree that they are necessary in the lexical evolution of languages to name objects or new phenomena. For example: bike-taxi: names a new means of transport; those inherent to computers: internet, chat, click the emergence of a new technology of universal scope.

Following this criterion, the mentioned terms are considered unnecessary for the following reasons:

  • They are not recognized by the Royal Spanish Academy (RSA), therefore, their use in serious professional communication is discordant.
  • There are words recognized in Spanish to express those concepts.
  • Because they are fashionable, they become clichés (the worst that happens); the consequence: progressive loss of the official lexicon, communication vitiated between professionals, affectation of the use of the mother tongue -although much is said about the importance of its care-.

The cliché is recognized as a word or structure so repeated that it becomes a stereotype: a defect that produces disinterest because it is repetitive, boring, and monotonous. Its major consequences are related to the progressive lexical loss, synonyms are not used, which form a passive lexicon: they are known but not used; all this impoverishes the vocabulary. They also manifest in syntax.

Below there are examples and their substitutes:

Paradigm: example, model, prototype, reference, canon...

Space: place, site, local; moment, occasion, course...

Subject: subject, content, summary, topic, argument, matter...

Scene: place, setting, context, circumstance...

Strategy: tactics, maneuver, plan, idea, project, conception...

Address: meet, treat, pose, refer, undertake...

Manager: manager, director, manager, boss, leader, regent...

Punctual: precise, accurate, timely, concise, detailed, adequate...

Other: decision maker, factors, intentional, comedian, monitor, collegiate, visualize...

And what can be said about the absurd: welcome females and welcome males, male workers and female workers, Cuban males and Cuban females, male tv. viewers and female tv, viewers, etc. when there is a generic established by the RSA that avoids the verbiage and verbosity - current trend - especially in speaking.

Some clichés in the syntax are: redundancy aside-, is it really worth?, plays a role, a group of ..., a series of ..., within the framework of ...

The authors' interest in encouraging health professionals towards a much-needed reflection on the aforementioned problems is reiterated, and they are incorporated into the postgraduate programs existing in this institution, as links between acquired knowledge and new knowledge, -a pathway efficient cognitive update and development of linguistic skills-; In this way, communicative competences are strengthened for a successful performance in this context and, more importantly, they can exhibit a good comprehensive professional image.



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7. Domínguez García I. Comunicación y texto. La Habana: Pueblo y Educación; 2010.



Declaración de intereses

The authors declare no conflict of interest.



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