Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Applied Linguistics

First Advisor

Fuller, Janet

Second Advisor

Halliday, Laura

Third Advisor

Batinski, Michael


This qualitative sociolinguistic study focuses on the contemporary usage of metaphor in religious speech among North American Quakers of the Religious of Society of Friends with a particular emphasis on the two historical metaphors of Light and Dark. Beginning with the 20th century, a diverse religious population has been steadily arising in Quaker meetings including many non-Christians. Individual American Quakers are currently choosing a variety of spiritual and/or religious identities and practices ranging from Evangelical or mystical forms of Christianity to Neo-paganism and Non-theism. Thus, the traditional meanings of these metaphors, which were rooted in biblical passages, are changing. This study is based primarily upon six in-depth interviews which provide a sample of a variety of religious viewpoints on the experiential usage of the metaphors of Light and Dark to embody spiritual feelings in worship. These two metaphors are embedded in many religious practices making them central to religious experience. Although Critical Discourse Analysis is used as the primary lens for investigation, the theories of Sapir, Whorf, Lakoff and Johnson also provide an additional basis for analysis. Additionally, a corpus which demonstrates collocations of the metaphors of Light and Dark has been created from archives of Early Friends' journals of the 17th century and compared to the writings of contemporary American Quakers.




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