Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Linguistics (Interdepartmental Program)

First Advisor

George Yule


It has been suggested that human beings do not possess social reality so much as they actively and cooperatively construct it by means of language in interaction with others. The manipulation of symbols, the creation of inferences, the posturing of one's personal identity all work together to enable participants (both speakers and hearers) in a given speech event to create social reality and reaffirm and maintain their social relationships. In religious speech communities, like the one investigated in this study, participants seek to create a different kind of social reality--one that encompasses all of the individual and corporate experiences of the group and interprets and reconstructs those experiences, transforming their secular nature into something of sacred significance. The speech community I investigated is radically committed to a worldview which understands the invisible, spiritual, sacred world as the fundamental reality within which everything else must be understood and interpreted. Everyday events only have meaning as they can be fitted into the larger schema of sacred reality. In this speech community, speakers work cooperatively and interactively together via a variety of linguistic devices to give sacred perspective to secular events and, in so doing, additionally create new spiritual experiences that augment their shared group knowledge and serve to strengthen their social harmony.