What mental images reveal about religious lexemes in Yoruba and English in Nigerian churches
Folorunso Odidi (Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria / University of Bayreuth)
In this paper, I elicit and describe the role of language and cognitive structures in the process of syncretism of the Christian churches in Nigeria. The use of indigenous language, in this case Yoruba, and English in the parishes of the so-called African Independent Churches (AIC) and the new Pentecostal (charismatic) churches reveals that rather than endangering, the strategic use of language enhances the vitality of the indigenous language. Using the methodology of cognitive linguistics, that is, cognitive-semantic approach to language based on prototype theory and its method, the paper unveils the conceptual structures of religious terms.
I conducted research with four groups: two from a Yoruba and from an English-speaking parish of an AIC (Cherubim & Seraphim), and two from a Yoruba and from an English-speaking parish of a Pentecostal Church (Redeemed Christian church of God). With regard to the religious lexeme ebo, whose English equivalent is sacrifice, our results show conceptual differences between the different parishes within one church, these differences point to the role, which the choice of language plays. In addition, the analysis of concept carried out here, in which African (Yoruba) and Christian (English) traditions are combined, shows the intricate intermingling of linguistic and extra-linguistic factors, again underscoring the importance of language, a factor neglected by most cognitive theories of religion.