Saved or not? speaker meaning attributed to salvation and Ukusindiswa in a church context
Thesis (MPhil (General Linguistics))—University of Stellenbosch, 2009.
Members of churches commonly use the English terms salvation/saved and their isiZulu equivalents insindiso/ukusindiswa. Implied meanings seem to have become attached to these terms, especially in isiZulu, which could cause miscommunication due to the attitudes of superiority of the so-called “saved ones” (abasindisiwe) and consequent antagonism amongst certain ecclesiastical groupings. The question addressed by this study was whether or not the meaning of the term to be saved and its isiZulu translation ukusindiswa, as understood by a selection of isiZulu-speaking Christians, is unambiguous. A further question was whether – should it be the case that these terms are found to be ambiguous – to be saved and its isiZulu translation ukusindiswa could be rehabilitated. Nine people from various denominational backgrounds, both lay and ordained, were interviewed in order to discover how they understood the terms in question. The interviewees were asked ten question, including questions on the influence of cultural practices on the meaning of the terms. These cultural practices were in connection with ancestors, as experienced in Zulu culture, and the influence of their understanding of the terms on the permissibility of ancestral practices. The answers given by the interviewees revealed certain trends. One of them was that, for some isiZulu speakers, the meaning of the terms included the aspect of laying aside of all contact with the ancestors. Those who understood the terms in this manner were seen by the interviewees as having an attitude of superiority and as condemning members of more traditional churches for their adherence to Zulu culture. A sociolinguistic analysis of the terms salvation/insindiso and to be saved/ukusindiswa is presented based on the interviewees’ responses. A conclusion is that the terms are often used in a biased and/or “loaded” way, which is a principal cause of miscommunication and misunderstanding. Ways of reducing this misunderstanding are proposed, including the “rehabilitation” of the terms linguistically and theologically. Greater sensitivity to different ecclesiastical cultures should be shown, involving the use of inclusive language and the exercising of the skills of intercultural communicative competence. This study reveals that the church needs to work at the issues surrounding the terms in question, the use of which can cause a breakdown in intercultural communication.