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The topic of religious language has many facets for exploration. The area of research for this coursework revolves around a recording taken in the due course of an evangelical church service. This section is known as the sermon.

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Introduction

Introduction The topic of religious language has many facets for exploration. The area of research for this coursework revolves around a recording taken in the due course of an evangelical church service. This section is known as the sermon. The recording was drawn from the first part of the sermon. In this, the pastor, the leader of the service, set up the ideas of what the talk would involve and made reference to various texts from the Christian religion's book of authority, the Bible. Parts of the transcription are spoken from notes, others from memory or improvisation, while other parts are read aloud from a written text. The differences between these are of interest as they incur changes and variations in tone, emphasis, speed, volume and other areas of prosodics. Factors inherent to the type of language, audience and purpose will be the focus of the study. It will also be necessary to include comments on persuasion, inference and the overall aim of the sermon. All these will be able to be identified from the various grammatical, lexical and phonological markers. I decided to use this topic as the basis of my work as I am interested both in the content of religious language and the transmission of such. I have spent several years hearing sermons by varying speakers and have found that the styles and techniques, although different, primarily result in comparable effects. I expect that during the course of the study, features explaining the effectiveness of the spoken sermon and features demonstrating subtleties of communication of this manner will become apparent through investigation into the sound and structure of the recording. The recording will hopefully provide insight into whether, and if so, how, religious language is employed to persuade the audience. The study may show if tone, pace and volume are designed to, or serve to, manipulate the understanding of those listening, or if the prosodic features are simply an inherent element of the specific type of language used. ...read more.

Middle

throughout every generation/ "Yet" is a subordinating conjunction used to connect two clauses or phrases. It is commonly replaced in the modern day by "but", another subordinating conjunction. Adherence to the slightly more archaic terminology again highlights the ethos of church language. In places, the sentence merges from active sentence formations to passive; in line 9, "to be taken seriously by" is a classic illustration of this. In context, the clause is "the principles that have been established here are to be taken seriously by Christ's church", and when put in the active format would be constructed so: "Christ's church is to take the principles that have been established here seriously". The reason for this foray into the passive voice stems perhaps again from middle-class elaboration of language, or conceivably from an endeavour to highlight the importance of the "principles" as the main concept of the sentence, even while not the linguistic subject. Sentences throughout the transcript are predominantly complex, and exclusively declarative. This is typical of an instructive speech such as a sermon, the purpose of which is of course to describe, explain and inform. Although most of the sentences are grammatically standard, there emerges an instance worthy of note. In line 13, part of the transcript read, without break: /Jesus is/ /declaring that to us the Lord of the Harvest to send out workers/ Whether the words are rearranged, or some are victims of unintentional ellipsis, this sentence is not standard and does not make grammatical sense. The sentence is divided into two parts: "Jesus is declaring that" (which initiates a reference to something that Jesus has declared) and "to us the Lord of the Harvest to send out workers" (which is what Jesus is said to be declaring). In the former, there is a distinct grammatical structure. There is a subject, "Jesus", and a present continuous verb "is declaring". This constitutes a valid sentence and makes linguistic and semantic sense. ...read more.

Conclusion

While it has been shown that not only are there flaws, as in any speech, with the accurate use of grammar and lexis, but that even some of the intentional tools, the more advanced devices, were inherently defective in that they either did not serve the purpose they were designed to serve, or performed at a lower level than had been hoped. I found that there was not a great deal in the way of persuasive language or insistency, but a reasonable level of instruction and information for an audience such as has been identified, an audience predominantly of Christians. Little of what was said was controversial and perhaps this was one of the reasons that persuasion was not utilised to the extent that might have been expected. A study of further sermons by the same pastor in the same church and under similar circumstances would be beneficial to the validity of this research as it would provide more of a context and a wider frame of reference for ascertaining the truth behind the levels of persuasion and drawing conclusions. Each tool or device that I expected to find was occurrent in the transcript. This could demonstrate that my projection was in fact accurate, or that my research has been methodologically flawed if I have found features not occurring in the speech. It is possible that I have misinterpreted some of what has been said, or that I have written down the speech into transcript in an inerrant way. It is obvious from what has been said, however, that there is at least a certain level of truth and relevance in what has been discovered concerning the nature of church language. I have identified a shift away from archaism, utilisation of tools such as volume and stress, and have seen that a middle class approach was deemed to be appropriate for the setting in which the sermon was delivered. (439) (4900 total) ...read more.

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