The pragmatics of liturgical discourse : with special reference to English Reformed worship and the preformative language doxology of Jean Ladrière
This study subjects Christian liturgy to linguistic-pragmatic analysis. It does so first, by 'anatomising' a new discipline of 'liturgical pragmatics' and second, by putting this anatomy into operation. In each case, it proceeds in accordance with David Crystal's three-fold schema for religious language research: as such, it coordinates methodological, theoretical and empirical interpretations in a survey which claims to be more systematic and contemporary than previous work on the pragmatics of sacral discourse. Specifically, it concentrates on the worship of the English Reformed church - a domain which has thus far been overlooked in studies of liturgical language-use, but one whose distinctive bias towards extemporary prayer invites the approach proposed. Methodologically, liturgic exegesis is shown to benefit from engagement with the interpretative strategies of speech act theory, implicature, relevance theory, extensional pragmatics, conversational pragmatics and socio-pragmatics. Theoretically. Jean Ladriere's model of liturgical language performativity is seen to provide a valuable basis for rapprochement between pragmatic principles and Christian doxology; nevertheless, it is argued that an even closer association can be made between pragmatic theory and Reformed liturgical doctrine. Empirically, models and hypotheses are tested against a corpus of data drawn from liturgical performance in the United Reformed Church. This comprises tapes, transcripts and participant-accounts of ten services conducted in different URC congregations on Advent Sunday, 1991. Close pragmatic study of this corpus, and of its Calvinist precedents, confirms that English Reformed worship has allowed an over-informative 'didactic monologism' to eclipse more directly participative and potentially 'eventful' historic forms. Although these forms have been extensively revived in the 1989 URC Service Book. it is proposed that they are more likely to return to regular URC services as creatively-adapted and suitably modernised discourse units.