LING 394 - Topics in Linguistics
Section: 001 Language and Religion
Term: FA 2018
Subject: Linguistics (LING)
Department: LSA Linguistics
Waitlist Capacity:
Advisory Prerequisites:
LING 111 or 210.
May be elected twice for credit. May be elected more than once in the same term.
Primary Instructor:

If we define religion as a system of belief in and worship of some force or power higher than humankind, whether it be the one God of the Judeo-Christian and Moslem traditions, or the multiple deities of many ancient (and some contemporary) belief systems it seems safe to say that all cultures and societies practice some form of religion. Religious practices involve some form of oral communication with the superior power(s), which requires the use of language, the only tool available to humans to communicate (directly or indirectly) with the divine and to share, in oral or written form, the chosen beliefs with others.

This course will examine how religions make use of language to meet their spiritual and non-spiritual goals, and how various facets of language are (or have been) influenced by their use as the linguistic medium of religion. Topics to be examined and discussed include legends on the divine origin of human languages (and writing systems), references to language and speech acts in sacred texts, the nature and use of sacred and liturgical languages (e.g., Hebrew, Greek, Latin, Quranic Arabic), the development of the religious vocabulary of a language (with emphasis on Latin and English), the problems involved in the translation and transmission of sacred texts and scripture, the linguistic nature of prayer, and the interplay between language, religion and national identity. Although this course will seek to examine these issues with reference to a large number of religions, emphasis will be placed on the monotheistic Jewish, Christian and Islamic traditions.

Course Requirements:

Students will write two take-home exams and a research paper on a topic (chosen in consultation with the instructor) relevant to the course topic. In addition, each student will make brief oral presentations based on his/her paper topic. Readings for this course will be placed on a CANVAS site. In addition, students should have at their disposal a Bible containing the Old and the New Testaments (hard copy or online). As necessary, I will supply passages from the Qu’ran or links to online English versions of the text.

Intended Audience:

Students who wish to take this course are strongly advised to have had a previous introductory course in linguistics. A basic knowledge of at least one Romance language would be helpful (though not required).

Class Format:

No previous background in Linguistics is necessary to take this course.

LING 394 - Topics in Linguistics
Schedule Listing
001 (LEC)
TuTh 1:00PM - 2:30PM
002 (LEC)
MW 2:30PM - 4:00PM
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