A Corpus-Driven Exploration of Language Use in Religious Discourse

Document Type : Research Article


Department of English, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Middle East University, Amman, Jordan



Sociolinguistic research has shown that religion has been in an intertwined relationship with language. However, the interaction between language and religion, especially in less institutional contexts such as prayer sites, has not received much attention. To address this issue, this study explores language use in religious discourse in multilingual settings. The study uses corpus linguistics techniques accompanied by a discourse analysis approach to investigate using Arabic in 182 English Friday sermons delivered at a New Zealand on-campus prayer site. The analysis shows that despite the presence of Arabic words in the corpus, the English equivalents of these words are also found. The analysis also shows that Arabic words are mainly either nouns or used in formulaic phrases. This study suggests that Arabic is used as an emblem of religious identity. This study contributes to the current scholarship by bringing together multilingualism research and corpus linguistics in under-researched contexts.