Original Research

English as a medium of worship: The experiences of the congregants of a Pentecostal charismatic church in Soweto

Thabisile N. Adams, Anne-Marie Beukes
Literator | Vol 40, No 1 | a1438 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/lit.v40i1.1438 | © 2019 Thabisile N. Adams, Anne-Marie Beukes | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 11 August 2017 | Published: 27 February 2019

About the author(s)

Thabisile N. Adams, Department of Languages, Cultural Studies and Applied Linguistics, School of Languages, University of Johannesburg, South Africa
Anne-Marie Beukes, Department of Languages, Cultural Studies and Applied Linguistics, School of Languages, University of Johannesburg, South Africa


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Abstract

This study examines the experiences of the congregants of a Pentecostal charismatic church (PCC) in Soweto regarding the use of English for communication. This particular church is peculiar in that English is its predominant language of religion. This is in stark contrast to many mainline churches (such as the Anglican, Lutheran and Roman Catholic churches) that use indigenous African languages (IALs) in most, if not entire, presentation of church services for black congregants. The curiosity then arises concerning the reasons for the predominant use of English during services in PCCs. The objectives of this study were to find out the general views of black congregants about the English language, how this view may impact on the congregants’ view of the use of English within the context of the service and what their preferences about language use in the sermon are, and why. The findings suggest that the congregants view English positively and are receptive to its use in the service, particularly for conducting sermons. In addition, English is seen as an all-inclusive language but notably, not as a language of identity. Based on these findings, strategies for accommodating the diverse language concerns of the congregation were espoused.

Keywords

Pentecostalism; language of religion; language attitudes; English language; indigenous African languages

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