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Text & Talk

An Interdisciplinary Journal of Language, Discourse & Communication Studies

Ed. by Sarangi, Srikant

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Volume 28, Issue 5


The pragmatics of reading prayers: Learning the Act of Contrition in Spanish-based religious education classes (doctrina)

Patricia Baquedano-López
  • Corresponding author
  • Patricia Baquedano-López is Associate Professor in Language and Literacy, Society and Culture at the Graduate School of Education at the University of California, Berkeley.
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Published Online: 2008-09-29 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/TEXT.2008.030


In this article I investigate the convergence of a number of linguistic, interactional, and textual resources employed in religious reading activities in Spanish-based Catholic religious instruction (doctrina) for school-age Mexican immigrant children. I examine the use of these resources through an analysis of the reading and memorization of the Act of Contrition (AOC), a prayer said during the religious ritual that involves the confession and absolution of sins. I discuss examples of a classroom reading activity that centers on the interactions of four female students and their teacher as they read the AOC. The analysis of their interactions illustrates the ways in which their collaborative reading engages a ritualization process that focuses and constructs text as sacred. The reading activity supported this ritualization process through (i) parallel reframing and interpretation of the words being read and (ii) verbalizations of cognitive activity related to ways of reading text. I also discuss how the activities of ritualization socialize attention to both text and other participants in the activity. Descriptions of doctrina instruction and the origins of the AOC are also provided.

Keywords:: language socialization; reading; religious communities; prayer; ritual; sacred text

About the article

Language & Literacy/Society & Culture, Graduate School of Education, 5625 Tolman Hall, Berkeley CA, 94720-1670, USA 〈 〉.

Published Online: 2008-09-29

Published in Print: 2008-09-01

Citation Information: Text & Talk - An Interdisciplinary Journal of Language, Discourse Communication Studies, Volume 28, Issue 5, Pages 581–602, ISSN (Online) 1860-7349, ISSN (Print) 1860-7330, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/TEXT.2008.030.

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