Master of Arts (MA)


Foreign Languages and Literatures

Document Type



This thesis explores the influence of socio-religious factors in semantic interpretation. The principal objective of the investigation is to determine the level of that religious influence and make a call for the inclusion of socio-religious factors in all sociolinguistic semantic studies. The religious community of practice analyzed for this study was the Church of Christ. Its status as a community of practice is confirmed through the results of surveys and interviews, which fulfill the requirements promulgated by Lave & Wegner (1991). Participants inside and outside the community of practice, residing in three distinct cities were included: Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Houston, Texas; and Caracas Venezuela. The 151 participants responded to a survey that presented them with 21 linguistic variables which had multiple possible definitions. Besides the religious constraints included, other social variables normally included in other studies of this nature were included, such as sex, age, education level, etc. Through the use of the statistical analysis program, Goldvarb, it was determined that the version of the Bible the participant prefers to read was the constraint most determinant for the most popular definition in 17 of the 21 lexical variables presented in the survey (81%). Also, eight individuals participated in interviews that revealed their religious cultural identity and cultural standing – through the use of pronouns. The cultural standing most shared was that of the authority of the Bible. Additionally, it was found that the versions of the Bible reflect greater linguistic evolution than secular dictionaries of the same diachronic years. As such, this semantic evolution, together with the results of the analysis of the surveys and interviews, affirm the influence of religion in semantic interpretation and that socio-religious variables should be included in future sociolinguistic studies.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Brody, Mary