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Essays in French Literature, Thought and Visual Culture


Edited By Georgina Evans and Adam Kay

This collection of essays arises from the 2005 Cambridge French Graduate Conference on the theme of threat. From the baleful and ubiquitous eyes of surveillance cameras to the ever-present possibility of total nuclear annihilation, threat is everywhere around us. Yet the phenomenon itself, if indeed it is a single phenomenon, has received little attention. This volume seeks to remedy this oversight with a collection of concise, hard-hitting essays on a variety of topics in French culture. Organized around central approaches to the problem of threat – (inter)cultural, philosophical, and approaches through the visual arts – the book examines anxiety, privacy, loss, invasion, and other issues related to the theme. Though emphasis is placed on the contemporary period, writers of the French Renaissance also receive due attention.


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ROGER BAINES Ta mère suce des Schtroumpfs: The Relationship between Face Threat and Solidarity in the Ritual ta mère … Insult Used by French Adolescents 29


Roger Baines Ta mère suce des Schtroumpfs: The Relationship between Face Threat and Solidarity in the Ritual ta mère … Insult Used by French Adolescents Introduction This chapter will start by briefly describing the research project on the insult in adolescent French. It will then give a definition of the ritual insult and summarise existing research, putting the research into the ta mère … form of the ritual insult into the context of politeness studies with particular attention to face threat. Then the data collected from interviews will be analysed; I will comment on the influence of age on perceived usage and explore the factor of fashionablility but, above all, using Labov (1972) and Kochman (1983) in particular, I will examine the way in which symbolic distance and a context of solidarity are maintained in order for the ritual ta mère … insult not to threaten face. Finally, the chapter will suggest a series of interesting issues arising from the fieldwork which might be use- fully pursued. The primary data for the project on insults in contemporary adolescent French comes from a parallel questionnaire and interview study conducted in 2000 which established the variables of age, gender, location, ethnicity and socio-economic status, and recorded the recognition and perceived usage of three insults of different degrees of force in contexts of varied intimacy. There were 486 questionnaire respondents aged between 12 and 23 years, with the vast majority aged between 14 and 18. The question- naire respondents were spread across...

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