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Avoiding the reaper: Notions of death in Sri Lankan obituaries

Journal: International Journal of Language Studies (Vol.8, No. 3)

Publication Date:

Authors : ;

Page : 117-144

Keywords : Language of Death; Rituals of Death; Sri Lankan English; Personal and Social Identity; Social Values; Religious and Cultural Identity;

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This paper presents findings from a study of the language of death in Sri Lankan obituaries. Obituaries were collected over two periods, from the Sri Lankan broadsheet The Sunday Observer spanning January to December 2003 and 2012 respectively, to answer the following research questions: (1) Does the language used in Sri Lankan obituaries attempt to evade the notion of death through features such as euphemisms and conceptual metaphors?; (2) What cultural/religious elements do the obituaries display through the language used? (3) How does the language that is used reflect the social and personal identity of the deceased and their families? (4) Does the language used to portray the identity of the deceased and their families reflect social values? The two sets of data were also used to compare whether there were any significant changes from 2003 to 2012 in the way that death was announced. Results indicated that the only change that appears to have taken place is in the formality of style in Sri Lankan obituaries, which seems to be decreasing.

Last modified: 2014-06-21 12:30:16