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Schweigen – einige religionsgeschichtliche Bemerkungen zu einem kommunikativen Phänomen

Katrin Unrath-Scharpenack

Silence is a communicative phenomenon which can only be explored and described under consideration of its cultural background. A substantial part of this cultural background is the cultic-religious silence in its widest sense which had a great influence on communication behaviour in the Christian cultural area. In order to demonstrate those correlations, this article draws up a brief history of the cultic-religious and especially the Christian silence. With this history, some characteristics of silence shall be made clear: First, it becomes understandable to what extent modern communicative silence is influenced by religious ideas, especially by the idea of the “scourge of the tongue”. This is demonstrated by examples. Second, it becomes clear that religious and communicative silence are both based on the same communicative experiences and thus, a mutual influence is most probable. This will be demonstrated by respective examples. Third, with the biblical – respectively the divine – silence, the vagueness and ambiguity and therewith the two fundamental characteristics of communicative silence become clear and comprehensible. Fourth, the various forms and functions of religious silence reflect the complementary, and at the same time the symbiotic, relation between silence and speech also within daily communication. Thus, the cultic-religious silence is the background in front of which communicative silence becomes lucid and understandable.

Linguistische Beiträge zur Slavistik. X. JungslavistInnen-Treffen Berlin 2001. Hg. Robert Hammel und Ljudmila Geist. München: Sagner 2003 (= Specimina Philologiae Slavicae 139), 223–245.