Religiopoliteness Linguistic Modifications: Evidence from Shiite Contexts in Iran


Politeness studies are oftentimes concerned with certain polite manners in general human interactions and exchanges where both parties, usually individuals, are in direct contact with one another. Religiopoliteness strategies are, in addition, rather concerned with, hence confined to, cases where the context is both markedly and remarkably religious, and the recipient of such a mode of honorification is a markedly sublime Islamic religious personality. Shiite religious contexts in Iran where the ceremonies are held in Persian show certain linguistic modifications that indicate and account for the overly religious coloring and character of the ceremony or public religious service. These linguistic modifications and adaptations concern the following tiers: phonetics, phonology, morphology, semantics, and pragmatics. These changes aim to indicate that the context is markedly religious and, on the individual level, they are markers of politeness in an Islamic religious context. Granted the linguistic modifications made are not part of standard Persian grammar, but incorporated for religiopoliteness purposes, such short-term changes may provisionally be referred to as audience-oriented religiolinguistic modifications, for the purpose behind making them is just exerting certain religio-ritual effect on the audience. Such religio-polite modes of reference seldom aim at any face-saving strategy or purpose, rather the aim for the preacher or conductor of the ceremony is to show his sincere, religious devotion as salient and effectual as possible so as to make his speech as religiously charged and moving as possible.