Figures of Rhetoric in the Language of Nigerian Christian Sermons
AbstractSermons are regarded as an art that integrates scientific analysis, literature and imaginative composition (Vaessen, 1998). The Christian sermonic discourse is highly persuasive and relies on rhetorical figures and devices to achieve its goals of calling people to decisions and modification of behaviours and warning them of future events (Baumann, 1972). How this ‘imaginative composition’, which is universally acknowledged in sermonic discourses, applies to Nigeria, a nation that uses English as a Second language is the concern of this paper. The paper examined figures of rhetoric in ten selected Christian sermons preached over a period of ten years. It was found that the figures of rhetoric used included logical argument, pathetic argument, rhetorical questions, restatements/repetitions, three-part lists, possibility talk, imagery/metaphors, stories and songs. The paper concluded that there is a marked shift from conventional/traditional biblical metaphors to socio-culturally determined metaphors that reflect the Nigerian Christian space and ideology.
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