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The Sociopragmatics of Zealotry in Religious Speech

Dr. Hawraa Jabbar Rahi

Department of English, College of Education for Human Sciences, University of Karbala, Karbala, Iraq

The present study investigates how zealotry is manifested in religious speech through the lens of sociopragmatics to inspect the reflection of social variables on the use of pragmatic strategies. Zealotry is particularly selected because it has not been given adequate attention by researchers, precisely from a sociopragmatic point of view, as far as the researcher could investigate. Hence, this knowledge gap needs to be bridged by socipragmatically examining zealotry in religious discourse. This study, thus, attempts to achieve the following aims: identifying the criteria that pragmatically best indicate zealotry in religious discourse; specifying the pragmatic strategies used to reflect zealotry in religious discourse; and finding out the effect of the social variables of religion and power on the manifestation of zealotry in religious discourse. In step with its aims, this study hypothesises that: oppositeness, negativeness of the other side, egotism, affront, incitement, hostility, intimidation, and hate speech are the pragmatically best criteria that indicate zealotry in religious discourse; the pragmatic strategies of negative speech acts and impoliteness strategies can be used by zealots to reflect zealotry in religious discourse; and the social variables of religion and power highly affect the manifestation of zealotry in religious discourse as reflected in the zealots’ preferences for the use of certain types of pragmatic strategies rather than the others. To achieve its aims, the present study follows certain steps: it briefly reviews the relevant literature about the sociopragmatics of zealotry and its pragmatic strategies; develops a model of zealotry to analyse the data of this study; analyses ten extracts qualitatively utilizing the model developed in the present study for this purpose; and discusses the findings to arrive at some conclusions. The present study ends up with a variety of conclusions, the most central of which is that zealotry in the context of religious discourse is pragmatically identified by certain criteria and manifested by various pragmatic strategies and it is socially affected by means of some social variables including region and power.

Keywords: Zealotry, Sociopragmatics, Religious Speech

 The above abstract is a part of the article which was accepted at The Ninth International Conference on Languages, Linguistics, Translation and Literature (WWW.LLLD.IR), 1-2 February 2024, Ahwaz.