Cultural influences play a huge role in how languages develop in different regions around the world. Religions, of course, have play a huge role in how cultures develop around the world, which means they also influence the local languages.
This is most evident with Arabic, and how the Quran is so important to the religion and the culture. However, as we examine some other world religions, we can also see some hints of linguistic influence throughout the years.
Islam and the Quran
Islam is one of the largest religions in the world, and growing quickly. The Quran is the holy book of Islam, and it contains the teachings of Muhammad. Muslims believe that the words gathered in this book are the complete and unaltered words of Allah.
While the Quran has been translated into many languages, it can really only be truly appreciated and understood by reading it in the original Quranic Arabic.
This form of the language is a little different from modern standard Arabic, which is the form of the language used in everyday life throughout the region.
However, Quranic Arabic (or Islamic Arabic) is still an important part of the culture in places like Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and other countries in the region.
The poetry of the language has always been an important part of the religious history of Arabic, which is why the written and oral aspects of the language mean so much. It’s also why the exact language is so critical. There may be some subtle nuances that don’t translate to other languages – or even to other forms of modern Arabic.
Rote memorization of the passages of the Quran remains an important part of the religion today.
Christianity and the Bible
In a way, you could say that it was language that had an historically huge impact on Christianity. While the language of the Bible is quite different form that spoken in modern times (in English, German, and one of the many other languages that book has been translated into), it can generally be understood through careful reading.
However, the Bible was one of the most famous things to come out of the Gutenberg printing press. While Gutenberg wasn’t the inventor of a moveable type printer, he did innovate on the process and made it possible to mass produce the written word (in this case, the Bible) at levels unlike anything that came before it.
This mean that everyone could get their hands on the Bible, and everyone could examine, research, and study the Good Word. This is what would eventually lead to Martin Luther’s Reformation. So, it wasn’t so much that the religion changed the language in the area, but having an understanding of the language and access to the information had an impact on the religion.
Judaism and the Torah
In Judaism, the written Torah is divided into three main parts: the Torah, the Ketuvim, and Nevi’im. In the Torah, you will find the 5 books of Moses, while the Ketuvim contains important writings like the Book of Psalms and Proverbs, and the Nevi’im has the writings of Jewish prophets.
The Torah also includes an oral tradition of practical applications that are passed from generation to generation. And, of course, a lot of these things are used early on in a child’s life to help them learn their language through songs, poems, and more.
Understanding the Relationships Between Religions and Languages
If someone wanted to gain a better understanding of the foundations of the English language, they would do well to study something like Latin rather than the Bible. However, if they wanted to gain a better understanding of the Bible, they may want to dive deeper into the phrases and vocabulary that were used in a such a different time and place.
Quranic Arabic is similar to that, but there are some important differences. First, if you want to gain a real understanding of the Quran, Quranic Arabic is absolutely necessary. The smallest differences in pronunciation here can make a huge difference in how the passage is understood. Second, Quranic Arabic has more of a foundational impact on the modern form of the language, and deeper understanding of it can give you a better understanding of the language as a whole. (Especially if you get started while you’re young.)
There is a definitely relationship between religions and languages. You may have to back pretty far in history to spot those connections, but they can be very meaningful in the modern day.