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Glossolalia and the Problem of Language$
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Nicholas Harkness

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9780226749389

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2022

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226749556.001.0001

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The Limits of Language

The Limits of Language

(p.38) 2 The Limits of Language
Glossolalia and the Problem of Language

Nicholas Harkness

University of Chicago Press

Chapter 2 moves to the ritual epicenter of glossolalia in South Korea, the Yoido Full Gospel Church, to develop the analytical assertion of this book: glossolalia should be conceptualized as cultural semiosis that is said to contain, and therefore be justified by, an ideological core of language, but in fact is produced at the ideological limits of language. The analysis proceeds by looking at how the language-ideological features of glossolalia intersect in mass events of group prayer, where glossolalia and cacophony combine to impose limits on “normal” linguistic functions (namely, denotation, prosody, participant roles, and social indexicality) while reinforcing ideological commitments to language itself. However, the ritual teleology of these imposed limits generates an experience of virtual language that exceeds the limits of “normal” speech and produces the sensuous intensity of spiritual contact.

Keywords:   Language Ideology, Ritual, Collective Prayer, Phonetics, Prosody, Indexicality, Yoido Full Gospel Church

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