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Swearing and the discursive construction of identity among young adults
Högskolan Dalarna, Akademin Språk och medier, Engelska.
2005 (Engelska)Ingår i: 9th International Pragmatics Conference, Riva del Garda, Italy, 2005Konferensbidrag, Publicerat paper (Refereegranskat) Published
Abstract [en]

Research on swearing has traditionally focussed on swear words as single units, for example, in terms of definition, offensiveness, syntactic roles, or semantic categories. In the present study, spontaneous swearing utterances were recorded in naturally occurring social settings, in an attempt to observe the social conditions conducive to swear word usage. Data collected from a university speech community suggest an important role of swearing in the identity construction of young adults. It is hypothesized that their use of swear words functions as an element of the discursive construction of identity of self, while the non-use of swear words can be understood as a construction of the identity of other. The data of over 500 swearing utterances, 60 questionnaires and 11 interviews were collected within a university speech community. The spontaneous swearing utterances reveal clear tendencies among the subjects to use swear words with interlocutors who are most like themselves in terms of age, race and gender. Among the student (young adult) sample population, the use of swear words functions to identify the speaker (self) as similar to the hearer, thus establishing or confirming group solidarity. As interlocutor similarities decrease, however, so do the swearing utterances. For example, the data showed a decrease in swear word usage when interlocutors were of different gender and a further decrease among interlocutors of different race. The fewest occurrences of swearing, however, were among interlocutors of different age. In fact, the questionnaire and interview data revealed age of the hearer to be the most influential variable in determining the speaker’s likelihood to swear. The data indicate that, for young adults, to refrain from swearing is a way of actively constructing (or imposing) the identity of other, thus establishing or confirming social distance. Swearing is regarded as a proprietary linguistic marker of identity, which itself is bound to generation. Within this student/young adult speech community, the use of swear words both with and by younger or older interlocutors is decried as inappropriate. Generation is therefore an important variable in identity construction, as it can award or restrict linguistic freedom.

Ort, förlag, år, upplaga, sidor
Riva del Garda, Italy, 2005.
Identifikatorer
URN: urn:nbn:se:du-3324OAI: oai:dalea.du.se:3324DiVA, id: diva2:521833
Konferens
9th International Pragmatics Conference , Riva del Garda, Italy, 10-15 July, 2005
Tillgänglig från: 2008-06-25 Skapad: 2008-06-25 Senast uppdaterad: 2012-04-24Bibliografiskt granskad

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