The role of religion

Maria Goldbach & Pilar Larrañaga
Uni-Hamburg
One of the subjects that has received little attention in recent sociolinguistic research is the role of religion in building people´s identity and, as such, in maintaining linguistic habits or even whole languages. It is undeniable that Yiddish has survived because this religious community was deeply intertwined and some religious habits were hold in this language. Greek and Latin survived for centuries in the liturgy of speaker communities whose mother tongues were neither the former nor the latter. Many muslims have some notions of Arabic since many of them read the Quoran in the original language. Nevertheless, the sacred books were translated and are being translated to many languages. The act of translation of a sacred text is a very controversial issue and has been subject to many disputes over the centuries. Those debates and the translation guidelines developed over the centuries were in broad terms instances of languages policy. In the catholic church, priests must stick to some languages conventions to approach the faithful and to some others in the liturgy. In this talk we wish to draw some attention to issues related to comprehensibility and translation of sacred texts and their role in language preservation.