A Cognitive Approach to the Semantics in the Sacred Context: Semantic and Symbolic Function of Sacred Words

Rajdeep Singh


One of the intriguing features of language interaction with society and culture is the position of certain words as sacred within that society. Thus, it is important to analyze the social process through which sacred words present their particular features. In this paper, we show how sacred words gain their symbolic prominence. Furthermore, we propose a cognitive-semantic model based on the hypothesis of historic automaticity chain that explains well the reason behind the loss of semantics of the sacred words. In this paper, we compare some sacred words across many Indo-European languages and analyze how the very same sacred words lost ground to other words and became almost empty of semantics and word origin, while still preserving the symbolic notion. This study brings the notion of abstraction to the sacred word framework and clarifies the ways the mind processes sacred semantics. In order to support our hypothesis, we performed two small-scale psycho-linguistic experiments and the results confirmed our hypothesis.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5430/elr.v7n3p1


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English Linguistics Research
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