"Jesus Speak" Sociolinguistic Analysis
I wrote this sociolinguistic analysis in Language Theory.
At the time I was searching for a research topic, I watched a YouTube video called “Shoot Christians Say” that made me laugh uncontrollably. My recent experience in a Christian speech community along with my interest in language varieties set me on the path to comparing American Christianese with the language of the historical Jesus. From there, I developed an outline for my research:
This piece was written with the intent of being submitted to a scholarly journal related to linguistics and faith. Though this analysis might be best understood and/or appreciated by American Christians, it was also written for a broader academic audience who might be interested in learning about a Bapticostal language variety in a Christian speech community. However, this analysis is for anyone who is interested in practicing inclusive speech.
In terms of the assignment for the class, my purpose was to apply a theoretical perspective to a set of research questions. Thus, I applied the theoretical perspectives regarding the necessity and purpose of language varieties and the inclusive and exclusive nature of speech communities to a language variety analysis comparing the language of Jesus and the language of American Christians to answer five research questions:
- Is Christianese good, bad, or simply a natural occurrence?
- What is the impact or impression Christianese leaves on others?
- Did Jesus speak Christianese?
- How can Christians today learn from Jesus’ example of inclusive language?
- What does it sound like to talk like a modern-day Jesus?
This research process solidified several key ideas of language theory in my mind:
• All languages and language varieties are worthy of respect
• All languages and language varieties are rule-governed
• All languages share certain universals
• Knowledge itself is shaped by both experience and linguistic interaction shared by members of various discourse communities
My narrative approach to this sociolinguistic analysis turned out to be one of the most intimate pieces of research I’ve undertaken and shared publicly. However, I believe the open disclosure is what allows it to be effective. How else can I hope to answer a daring question like “What does it sound like to talk like a modern-day Jesus?” if I am not willing to be open about my own personal faith and faults?
Tripp and Tyler. “Shoot Christians Say.” Online video clip. YouTube. YouTube, 30 May 2013. Web. 28 Mar. 2014.