"General Conference talk": Style Variation and the Styling of Identity in Latter-day Saint General Conference Oratory
Despite its exceptional importance as a cultural performance event in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, General Conference has received little attention in Mormon studies, to say nothing of sociolinguistics. Situated within the larger question of how the public language of Mormon authorities has changed over time, this thesis seeks to discover style features of what impressionistically appears to be a unitary General Conference style since 1960 (the era of church "Correlation"). Statistical analysis is then used to determine which of five sociolinguistic factors and three pairwise interactions between four of the five sociolinguistic factors most saliently conditions the use of these style features in General Conference. Findings indicate that older male speakers are more likely to perform the majority of these style features, which opens the possibility that a new style may be emerging. Finally, this study attempts to give a theoretical account of style in General Conference by appealing to Alan Bell's (1984; 2001) "audience design" framework, and Nikolas Coupland's (2007) refinement of Bauman's cultural performance theory. The unique conditions of General Conference are best described as a "high performance event" in which speakers converge stylistically on an uncharacteristically present "in-group referee," namely the General Authorities of the church present in the LDS Conference Center during the live broadcast of General Conference.
College and Department
Humanities; Linguistics and English Language
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Betts, Stephen Thomas, ""General Conference talk": Style Variation and the Styling of Identity in Latter-day Saint General Conference Oratory" (2019). Theses and Dissertations. 7519.
Mormon, General Conference, sociolinguistics, style, syntax, cultural performance, adult language socialization, audience design