Using Semantic Technologies to Analyze the Semantic Orientation of Religious Sermons – A Validation of the Early Work of McLaughlin05/20/2011
This research derives from a growing awareness in the knowledge management community of three factors: the value of language to knowledge management, the value of knowledge in all economic sectors and all aspects of human endeavour, and the “knowledge-richness” of belief systems and religion. Three research questions are addressed: What is the nature of language found in sermons? Is the use of semantic analysis technologies a feasible method for increasing our understanding of language patterns and characteristics? And, finally, Are there different approaches to the use of language in sermons across Christian religious communities? The research leverages semantic criteria defined by the early work of Raymond McLaughlin on the use of intentional and extensional language. McLaughlin’s research was necessarily limited in scale and scope and performed manually in 1940. In 2011, this research leverages semantic technologies to apply his well-formed semantic criteria to a larger scale (300 sermons) and broader scope (nine religious denominations). The research results suggest that McLaughlin’s criteria retain their value to language analysis today, that semantic technologies are a practical approach to applying these criteria to the use of language in religious communities, but that there are variations in the conclusion drawn by McLaughlin 70 years ago. The primary result suggests a high degree of balance of intentional and extensional language in modern day sermons.