Veiling of Meaning: Investigating Possible Linguistic Effects of Scientology’s Unique Lexicon

Discussion in 'News and Current Events' started by COS and NOI News, Jul 3, 2021.

  1. Academic paper -- “The Bridge” and the Veiling of Meaning: Investigating the Possible Linguistic Effects of Scientology’s Unique Lexicon

    International Journal for the Study of New Religions
    Vol. 10, No. 1, at 67–88

    * * * * * BEGIN INTRODUCTION * * * * *


    Benjamin Fischer
    Walworth Barbour American International School


    Keywords: Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis, linguistic relativism, Scientology, Scientology-Speak, religious terminology


    This article examines the possible effects of the unique terminology of the Church of Scientology on its members. It connects the concepts of the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis with experimental data on the linguistic effects of different word categories and applies them to oft-used terms within the Church of Scientology. A thematic content analysis of an internal Scientology video assesses the possible linguistic effects of the Scientological lexicon. The analysis comprised of quantitative and qualitative elements. Unique words in the video are cataloged by frequency and then tagged by one or more of six word categories previously proven to have an associated linguistic effect, and then qualitatively analyzed in regards to the categories' associated effects. It was concluded that key effects were exclusivity, complexity, and ambiguity,with terms veiling meaning, possibly causing an impression of Scientology arcane and distant. Moreover, it was found that the ambiguity of terms and their sense of professionalism may cause Scientologists and non-Scientologists alike to more easily place faith in the legitimacy of the concepts behind the words. This shows that the kind of terminology used in Scientology or similar groups likely has an effect on perception and/or behavior, and may better inform Scientologists on the factors that influence their attitudes. The paper opens the gates for deeper studies into the discourse, behaviors, and nature of an enigmatic new religious movement.

    Author Biography

    Benjamin Fischer, Walworth Barbour American International School

    Ben Fischer is a student at Stanford University. He has written screenplays, novels, and collections of poetry. His first publication was the young-adult sci-fi novel The Heir To The Throne. Ben has conducted research throughout high school on linguistic anthropology, and wishes to pursue his interests along the road.

    * * * * * END INTRODUCTION * * * * *

    Request a free copy of the paper from the author at ResearchGate:'s_Unique_Lexicon


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