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The language of the sacraments of the Catholic Church: Austin and Searle's model

Thecla Ngozi Udemmadu
Patrick Ik. Umezi


Catholic Church has seven sacraments which are administered with words of mouth by appropriate ministers when all the requirements are met. This study is set out to investigate such discourse and linguistic elements that made the administering of the sacraments valid. The data for the exercise were collected from the catechism of the Catholic Church and through unstructured oral interviews with some catholic priests. Austin (1962) and Searle (1969)'s framework of speech acts were adopted in the analysis of the data. Among the findings were that active and functional words otherwise known as performative acts were the essential linguistic elements that authenticate the sacraments without which every other thing is null and void. Other acts such as locutionary, illocutionary and perlocutionary acts were evident in the administering of the sacraments. The study concluded that the speech elements and felicitous conditions that validate the sacraments should be well noted.

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print ISSN: 2006-5442