Implicatures Used to Communicate Meanings in Sermons: A Study of Pentecostal Churches in Eldoret, Kenya

Oluoch, Monica Oloo

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Implicatures are taken to be the meanings that arise due to the flouting of any of the maxims of the Cooperative Principle. The maxims are flouted in order to communicate a meaning beyond the literal meaning of the words used. This paper examines the implicatures used to convey meanings in sermons from selected Pentecostal churches in Eldoret town, Kenya. The research assumed that preachers perform various speech acts but at times they do not get the desired response. It was guided by the Speech Acts theory and the Cooperative Principle. Data for the study was collected using camcorder video recording and participant observation. The data from the camcorder was transcribed word-for-word and then analysed at the level of speech acts and implicatures. The relevant texts were extracted from the selected sermons to illustrate the speech acts and implicatures identified. It was revealed that preachers flout the maxims in order to communicate implied meanings. Preachers use repetition of words and phrases to flout the quantity maxim. In this way, they are able to communicate and reinforce messages to their congregations. Preachers also flout the quality maxim to underscore some of the weaknesses of Christians that make them prone to mistakes or sin. They emphasize these implicatures by making references to examples of characters in the Bible who were not careful in their spiritual walk and who subsequently ended up in a bad place. The relevance maxim is flouted through reference to contextual information in order to strengthen the main message in the sermon. Lastly, the manner maxim is flouted through the use of obscurities in communication, which in themselves represent a lack of spiritual steadiness. It is recommended that the examination of implicatures should be replicated in other Christian denominations and other major world religions to illustrate the communicative strategies used in religious discourse.




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