Discourse Functions of Modal Verbs ‘Will and Shall’ in Christian Prayers

Adepoju Olalekan Tunde

Abstract


Prayer and language can be said to share similar definition in that they are both means of communication, though in prayer, one is communicating solely with a Supreme Being. This communication implies that a prayer is a form of discourse due to the presence of interaction; as such a discourse analysis of prayer will not be out of place. This study therefore investigates the use of modal verbs by pastors in Christian prayers. This is with a view to identifying and examining the discourse functions performed by these modal expressions. The Speech Act Theory and Systemic Functional Grammar, mainly using the system of modality, are used to examine the focus of this study. Prayer utterances made by four ‘popular’ Nigerian pastors served as the data set for this study. The system of modality helps to understand the modulation and modalization of these modal verbs as used in the prayer statements, whereas the speech act analysis expresses the types of illocutionary acts the modal verbs indicate in the prayer statements. The interaction of the two theories helps to bring to fore the discourse functions performed by these modal verbs in the Christian prayers. It is noticed that a prayer statement may express more than one speech act, when this happens the acts dictate the discourse function that such modal expressions perform. This study therefore concludes that the discourse functions resultantly enhance the level of the recipient’s belief in God and His ability to grant the prayer requests.


Keywords


Christian prayers, discourse functions, prayer discourse, modal verbs.

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