Linguistics_language and Religion - Студенческий научный форум

XI Международная студенческая научная конференция Студенческий научный форум - 2019

Linguistics_language and Religion

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LINGUISTICS

Linguistics is the scientific study of language. It involves analysing language form, language meaning, and language in context. The earliest activities in the documentation and description of language have been attributed to the 6th-century-BCIndian grammarian Pāṇini who wrote a formal description of the Sanskrit language in his Aṣṭādhyāyī.

Linguists traditionally analyse human language by observing an interplay between sound and meaning. Phonetics is the study of speech and non-speech sounds, and delves into their acoustic and articulatory properties. The study of language meaning, on the other hand, deals with how languages encode relations between entities, properties, and other aspects of the world to convey, process, and assign meaning, as well as manage and resolve ambiguity. While the study of semanticstypically concerns itself with truth conditionspragmatics deals with how situational context influences the production of meaning.

LANGUAGE

Language is a system that consists of the development, acquisition, maintenance and use of complex systems of communication, particularly the human ability to do so; and a language is any specific example of such a system.

The scientific study of language is called linguistics. Questions concerning the philosophy of language, such as whether words can represent experience, have been debated at least since Gorgias and Plato in ancient Greece. Thinkers such as Rousseau have argued that language originated from emotions while others like Kant have held that it originated from rational and logical thought. 20th-century philosophers such as Wittgenstein argued that philosophy is really the study of language. Major figures in linguistics include Ferdinand de Saussure and Noam Chomsky.

Estimates of the number of human languages in the world vary between 5,000 and 7,000. However, any precise estimate depends on a partly arbitrary distinction between languages and dialectsNatural languages are spoken or signed, but any language can be encoded into secondary media using auditory, visual, or tactile stimuli – for example, in whistlingsigned, or braille. This is because human language is modality-independent. Depending on philosophical perspectives regarding the definition of language and meaning, when used as a general concept, "language" may refer to the cognitive ability to learn and use systems of complex communication, or to describe the set of rules that makes up these systems, or the set of utterances that can be produced from those rules. All languages rely on the process of semiosis to relate signs to particular meaningsOralmanual and tactile languages contain a phonological system that governs how symbols are used to form sequences known as words or morphemes, and a syntactic system that governs how words and morphemes are combined to form phrases and utterances.

Human language has the properties of productivity and displacement, and relies entirely on social convention and learning. Its complex structure affords a much wider range of expressions than any known system of animal communication. Language is thought to have originated when early hominins started gradually changing their primate communication systems, acquiring the ability to form a theory of other minds and a shared intentionality. This development is sometimes thought to have coincided with an increase in brain volume, and many linguists see the structures of language as having evolved to serve specific communicative and social functions. Language is processed in many different locations in the human brain, but especially in Broca's and Wernicke's areas. Humans acquire language through social interaction in early childhood, and children generally speak fluently by approximately three years old. The use of language is deeply entrenched in human culture. Therefore, in addition to its strictly communicative uses, language also has many social and cultural uses, such as signifying group identitysocial stratification, as well as social grooming and entertainment.

RELIGION

Religion is a cultural system of designated behaviors and practices, moralsworldviewstextssanctified placespropheciesethics, or organizations, that relates humanity to supernaturaltranscendental, or spiritual elements. However, there is no scholarly consensus over what precisely constitutes a religion.

Different religions may or may not contain various elements ranging from the divine[3]sacred thingsfaith, a supernatural being or supernatural beings or "some sort of ultimacy and transcendence that will provide norms and power for the rest of life". Religious practices may include ritualssermons, commemoration or veneration (of deities), sacrificesfestivalsfeaststrancesinitiationsfunerary servicesmatrimonial servicesmeditationprayermusicartdancepublic service, or other aspects of human culture. Religions have sacred histories and narratives, which may be preserved in sacred scriptures, and symbols and holy places, that aim mostly to give a meaning to life. Religions may contain symbolic stories, which are sometimes said by followers to be true, that have the side purpose of explaining the origin of life, the universe, and other things. Traditionally, faith, in addition to reason, has been considered a source of religious beliefs.

There are an estimated 10,000 distinct religions worldwide, but about 84% of the world's population is affiliated with one of the five largest religion groups, namely ChristianityIslamHinduismBuddhism or forms of folk religion. The religiously unaffiliated demographic includes those who do not identify with any particular religion, atheists and agnostics. While the religiously unaffiliated have grown globally, many of the religiously unaffiliated still have various religious beliefs.

The study of religion encompasses a wide variety of academic disciplines, including theologycomparative religion and social scientific studies. Theories of religion offer various explanations for the origins and workings of religion, including the ontological foundations of religious being and belief.

THE SUBJECT OF DISCUSSION

The interface between language and religion is so palpable throughout the world that we

cannot ignore it. Today's modern world, besides its complexities and due to its diverse and

intense relationships among different cultures, countries, and people, do definitely has special

relationships of attitudes and religion within and between people of societies. Specifically,

language is the medium and mean of communication. Around four years ago Herman (2008)

declared that many human activities can be described as linguistic and there is a temptation to

treat language as the name of substantive entity existing beyond the phenomena. Holistically

language by its subparts in the macro level and micro level can be the medium of every

communication. Atomistically, the basis of communication can be different in different contexts,

genres, and situations. Empirical studies in discourse analysis indicated that participants of a

relationship and the interactants decide when and where participant A says X. we can allude to

what Halliday (1994) proposed in systemic functional grammar now. He puts it that there is a

The interface between language and religion is so palpable throughout the world that we

cannot ignore it. Today's modern world, besides its complexities and due to its diverse and

intense relationships among different cultures, countries, and people, do definitely has special

relationships of attitudes and religion within and between people of societies. Specifically,

language is the medium and mean of communication. Around four years ago Herman (2008)

declared that many human activities can be described as linguistic and there is a temptation to

treat language as the name of substantive entity existing beyond the phenomena. Holistically

language by its subparts in the macro level and micro level can be the medium of every

communication. Atomistically, the basis of communication can be different in different contexts,

genres, and situations. Empirical studies in discourse analysis indicated that participants of a

relationship and the interactants decide when and where participant A says X. we can allude to

what Halliday (1994) proposed in systemic functional grammar now. He puts it that there is a

The interface between language and religion is so palpable throughout the world that we

cannot ignore it. Today's modern world, besides its complexities and due to its diverse and

intense relationships among different cultures, countries, and people, do definitely has special

relationships of attitudes and religion within and between people of societies. Specifically,

language is the medium and mean of communication. Around four years ago Herman (2008)

declared that many human activities can be described as linguistic and there is a temptation to

treat language as the name of substantive entity existing beyond the phenomena. Holistically

language by its subparts in the macro level and micro level can be the medium of every

communication. Atomistically, the basis of communication can be different in different contexts,

genres, and situations. Empirical studies in discourse analysis indicated that participants of a

relationship and the interactants decide when and where participant A says X. we can allude to

what Halliday (1994) proposed in systemic functional grammar now. He puts it that there is a debate over the issue whether form follows function or the other way round i.e. form precedes

function. For Halliday (1994) language is functional, it means, to see it functionally, form

follows function. In this study, we will represent that, since religious affairs and practices are

essential functions which people want to fulfill, we have a functional perspective. These

functions may include, saying the prayer, saying the rosary, leading a procession, giving a

sermon, performing burial and funeral rites and etc. it can also include verbal and nonverbal uses

of language to fulfill a function. Different contexts and different discourses restrict and delimit

the use of languages to perform an action. Furthermore, social status of the people, their

pedagogical place, policy making of the society and etc. may directly interfere. Sociological and

sociolinguistic policies in a society and culture can influence the use of language. Different

divisions can model the society in different countries across the world. In some countries,

especially western countries the relationship among knowledge, pleasure and power creates the

skeleton of the society. Any discourse should be in the realm of these three categories. In some

other countries like eastern countries this triangle includes education, safety and freedom.

Governments in power go to great lengths to impose their hegemony and power on their society

and throughout the world. One of the most important instruments is controlling the language and

the discourse of the society. During the 2004 election In America senator Barack Obama

declared (Kaylor, 2011) "we worship a mighty God in the blue state" to appeal to religious

tendencies of people to have strength and power over religious people. By the way, society is an

artifact made by different ideas. It is up to the government to decide how to change the policies

and make an artifact as they wish. Each government wants to have its people under control and

power; so, elites and scholars generate ideas and opinions. The government will plant the seeds

of these ideas in the minds of the people to control their actions. Media and education play the

main role here by controlling the predominant discourse and paradigms of the society. Education

is treated as a site where state and society are reproduced and/or challenged, where tensions arise

over control of minds and bodies, and over interpretations and uses of religion and culture (Chan

& Jaschok, 2009). Little by little, the preferred mentality of the government will be invested and

inculcated in the people of the society. A unanimous consensus over the decisions of the society

is implemented then. It is obvious that language should not be taken for granted; because, it

performs its role as a facilitator of all the functions and processes mentioned above. Based on

discourse and information structure theories, writers, journalists, speakers, and etc. produce a

context they prefer. In other words their statements are contextually licensed based on the

mentality which is supposed to be invested into the society. According to Van Dijk (1998)

language use and discourse has micro and macro level. Obviously there would be a gap between

the two levels. The only thing that can bridge the gap is language. Speakers in community bridge

the gap through providing text and talk in a definite context. These are all related to the meta

communication aspects of language, i.e. creation of power, dominance and other functions.

For many people all over the world religion is indispensible, without which they cannot

continue their lives and existences. Religion can be extensively influential in a community. It can

affect all parts and aspects of a society, from lifestyle, science, education, architecture to

marriage, behavior, and ethics. As an example we can say that by means of its strong language,

religion can fuel a revolution easily. When a community arrives at a decision to call their authority and ruler into question and have a social order change, religion comes in. Religious

faith of the people strengthens the community to resist on their needs and changes. Divine

religions are against absolutism. So, it can easily prevent peoples' religious beliefs from being

either a fanatic of the right and left or absolutism in revolutionary acts. By the way, nowadays

there is a debate whether religion precedes society and society should comply with religion or

religion should act in accordance with the modern society. Due to different historical

backgrounds, different ideologies about modernism and religiosity exist in different religions.

Divine religions like Islam, Christianity and Judaism are more persistent on their positions,

beliefs and attitudes. It's because in these religions, irrespective of the matter that they are

implemented in the society or not, a theocratic society is at the center of attention rather than

democracy. One of the central tenets of modernism is to have a democratic society. In such a

community every body's freedom is both intrinsic and extrinsic. It is intrinsic when people are

making their own decisions and when it comes to plan the society, it will be extrinsic. In

modernism, morality is self-legislating based on a mutual agreement with others. The aim is to

release mankind from all constraints that are imposed by religions or authorities. In divine

religions morality was prescribed by an omniscient who is God. Then, all revelations had been

interpreted by prophets and proffered to people. All prophets, one by one, completed mankind's

lifestyle. It was completed by Muhammad. After Muhammad, Imams played the role of

strategists to protect religion, even at the expense of their lives and family members. So, now

that we inherited this religion, we can see that it constraints and prevents people from doing

many things and also preach us to do many other things instead. Modernism demythologized the

lifestyles and had a transition from mythos to logos. By the way, modernism underpin on

freedom. Since, religions have their own dos and don'ts; this would be one of the reasons that

modernism contradicts with religions and traditional religious societies. Thus, according to the

aim of this study i.e. the interplay of language and religion, we have to give a sharper focus to

the communities which are replete with religiosity. Further studies in the recondite relationships

between religion and making the society necessitate deeper arguments about it. Today, religion

has become a renewed force, even in western societies.

Opinions about religion can be diffused in four ways: 1. Media 2. Studies done by social

scientists 3. Statements and writings of committed people 4. People conclude something based

on their own decisions. Before going to these categories, it might be worth telling that, according

to Toropove (2002) understanding and making relationship with religious issues and sayings

needs five preconditions:

1. Belief in a single God.

2. Belief in angels.

3. Belief in the revealed books.

4. Belief in the prophets.

5. Belief in the day of judgement.

Religion seeks its answers in transcendental realms. It's because human life founded on Trans empirical truths. Stolberg (2008) in his article tried to establish a religio-scientific framework and determined its influence on the education of pre-service primary teachers who teach religious education.

In a religious society techne (skill) and praxis should be founded on the basis of arete (virtue). Otherwise, the matter is that the society will be in the hands of technocrats. Technocrats will administer the society based on skills and generated ideas. These skills and ideas are not acceptable by religions, since they are desirous and were made by inclinations. Religion cannot comply with such kinds of societies. On the other hand, it can also be claimed that there can be religious modern societies. It means providing a society with a technology and knowledge which

is conformed to the religious beliefs. So, modernism will be in accordance with the religion.

Media by itself has a substantial role to play in keeping religion pragmatic and active in a community.

Media is a principal part of every society and it can legitimately use the language and discourse

to reach their vital goals. That is not the whole story. Social scientists, no longer to be known as

the religious activists, do many studies in the area of religion. Congregations on religious matters

are very widespread all over the world. The third ameliorating vehicle of dissemination of

religious opinions is utilizing what committed persons have accomplished. There is no doubt

they dedicate and devote themselves to gain spiritual pabulum. Their writings and statements

should be sought to induct their reflection, meditation, stoicism and perfectionism. The last but

not least talks about the confusing conclusions that some people result when they are

wholeheartedly devoted themselves to the spiritual connections in seeking solace, especially

when they are in the harshness of everyday lives. It is beyond the scope of this paper to discuss

about sociology and theology line by line. Just it suffices to say that based on what is mentioned

above, with regard to some prerequisites modernism contrasts with religion. So, our preferred

contexts are not those countries which pay tribute to modernism more than religion. Our purpose

is to seek into the discourses of countries with more religiosity. Religion is under repression in

relativistic, positivistic, reductionist context and to some extent in rationalistic communities.

Using religious language to get things done

What are the strategies used in religious language to show the depth, difficulty and figurativeness? How do religious stories persuade and convince people? Is religious language really oblique and obscure?

To answer these daunting questions, a great discussion on diverse strategies used in religious

language should be delved into. It is obvious that in some cases religious language appeals to

sympathy, irony, metaphors and etc. to transfer its depth and complexity. Unfortunately,

religious language difficulties in relation to philosophy and figurative language are even

inscrutable sometimes to an insider of the language. The problem is that, using difficult

languages in religions made it philosophically confusing. It is proper to say now that, being

strange to the strategies used in different languages causes many problems in interpreting the

proper meaning and people will be easily grooved and positioned in a definite positive or

negative semantic orientation. Finding the global groove, an article written by Coffin and Coffin

and O,Halloran (2005) completely explain how to dynamically position the readers. The above

brief discussion takes the readers' attention to the strategies that are widely employed in religious

contexts to get things done. We refer to them as macro-strategies; thereafter, micro-strategies

will be discussed. These macro-strategies are:

1. Reminiscing: words are able to bring past events to mind.

Example: Establish worship at the two ends of the day and in some times of the night.

Lo! Good deeds annul ill deeds. This is a reminder for the mindful.

2. Worshiping: Important acts of worship take place with very few words.

Example: Words of Quran painted on a vehicle as a talisman or putting out the candles on

an altar in an Orthodox liturgy or distributing traditional food in Jew and other operations

are done through operative words.

3. Committing: Committing people to certain thing by means of performative words

Example: In Israel kings are bound to their imperial overlord based on their covenant

form that is bound to its Divine King, Yahweh. Imam Ali committed and bounded

himself to Muhammad and never breached his covenant until the end of his life.

4. Solemnizing: using religious words have the effect of solemnizing natural occurrences.

Example: Using Bismillah (In the name of God) whenever Muslims want to start a new

action. Similarly it is present in Christian by saying In the name of the Father, and of the

Son and of the Holy Ghost.

5. Invoking, praying, blessing: Asking questions or making requests (In fact they are giving

something to each other)

Example: God be with you, peace be upon him/her, the Lord bless you and other similar

benedictions are in this category.

6. Exhorting: Urging or encouraging others for joining the religion or worshipful activities.

Example: In Quran, Surah Al-Imran, verse 125 urges and exhorts people to be pious and

they will be given five thousand angels to protect them from evil: But if ye preserve and

keep from evil the enemy attack you suddenly, your lord will help you with five thousand

angels sweeping on.

7. Inspiring: Using words to arouse feelings and stimulate actions.

Example: Imam Khomeini's social and political will at the end of his life was a manifesto

to arouse feelings and inspire people in favor of Islam and Iran.

Due to many reasons these strategies are used by religious writers and speakers. One of the

reasons is appealing to the sentiments and affection of people so that they can influence their

emotion to get things done. The other reason is that, encountering with supernatural views like

God, angels and etc. religious languages attempt to talk elusively and obscurely. To provoke

important interpretations in the minds of people, religious symbols can help the language to be

more informative and influential. Giving a summing up of this talk we can refer to the evidences

below that show how religious language gets things done:

1. The power to arouse, to evoke, and to change emotions and attitudes.

2. Commitment to the central figures and following their offers.

3. The usage of performative verbs.

4. The rule of some religious activities related to worships.

5. The role of operative words (Baptism).

6. Ways and instruments to remember God (words and symbolic actions and conventions of

human language).

7. Using religious language to solemnize, formalize and give solidarity to something or

Somebody.

8. Words which are used to urge and encourage people to join religious people, otherwise they

warn people.

9. Psychological power of religious stories, historical novels, drama, allegories, poetries, songs

and oratories.

References

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Halliday, M. A. K. (1994). An introduction to functional grammar (2nd edition). London:

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