Christianese: A Conversation Analysis of the Dialect of Evangelicals
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This thesis analyzes two conversations between groups of American college students: one group of male roommates who attend the same church and one group of small-group leaders planning their group’s activities. The two discussions, between 40 and 50 minutes each, were video-recorded, transcribed, and analyzed for Christianese—a religiolect predominantly spoken by Christians in the company of other Christians. This thesis makes use of Conversation Analysis (CA) and linguistic theories of frames, identity, and group membership. The primary insight gleaned from the conversations is that speakers use Christianese to prove their identity as Christians and their membership in the larger community of Christians. Six strategies for solidifying this in-group membership are examined: allusions to the Bible, allusions to larger Christian culture, religious topic choice, framing extended statements as mini-sermons, Christian-specific jargon and phrasing, and backchanneling.