Language Use and Pain-relieving Strategies in Christian Funeral Sermons and Services in Nigeria

Temitope Michael Ajayi


The Christian religion sees death as a means of transportation to another world and life beyond the reach of the living. The eternal separation between the dead and the living, as caused by death, often brings about feelings of pain, sorrow and regret in the hearts of the bereaved. However, as pain-relieving strategies, preachers and pastors at Christian funerals make recourse to certain Christian ideologies embedded in shared Christian doctrinal belief about death in their sermons to calm and console the bereaved. This phenomenon has not been given due attention in scholarship. This study, therefore, although draws inputs from the sociolinguistic tenets of Adegbija’s pragmasociolinguistic theory, is a descriptive analysis of Christian funeral sermons and services in selected Pentecostal, Orthodox, and Evangelical churches in Ibadan, Nigeria. The findings of the study reveal Christian ideological principles are strategically employed by Christian preachers/pastors in their language use at funerals in Nigeria as pain-relieving strategies to proffer a soothing balm to heal the pain in the hearts of the bereaved.

Key words: language use, pain-relieving strategies, funeral sermons and services, Nigeria

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