Linguistik online 26, 1/06

Response Elicitation in English-medium Christian Pulpit Discourse (ECPD)

Rotimi Taiwo (Ile-Ife)



The study is an investigation into the various ways pulpit preachers in Christian religion elicit responses from their congregation. The data for the study consists of messages delivered from the pulpit at denominational, non-denominational and interdenominational Christian services in South-Western Nigeria. Working within the framework of Sociolinguistics and Discourse Analysis, the analyses reveal that preachers control the discourse, while the worshippers share in the process of creation of the text as it unfolds. For instance, they determine what responses are given, how they should be given and when to give them. It was also observed that response elicitation is done through the use of interrogatives, declaratives and imperatives, and such responses may come in forms of speech, physical action, and mental behaviour. Our analyses reveal a preponderance of spoken responses in the data. Five kinds of spoken responses are identified in the data, namely: Conventional Answer (CA), Response to Prayers (RP), Repeated Statements (RS), Gap Filling (GF), and Corrected Statement (CS). The study concludes that despite that the way responses are elicited depends largely on the practices of any religious community, certain patterns of elicitation are common in ECPD. The degree of control and the kind of response elicited by a preacher are determined by the language expectations of the community. Such expectations include knowledge of the language code, principles, norms, use, situation and the world of such religious communities.


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