Stilisierungen, Identitäten, mediale Ressourcen
Edited By Helga Kotthoff and Christine Mertzlufft
Swearing in the speech of young girls, middle-aged women and elderly ladies
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Swearing in the speech of adolescent girls, middle-aged women and elderly ladies
Young people are often accused of swearing all the time and thereby causing the language to deteriorate. This opinion can be found in debates in the Danish newspapers and other places where the adult generation is judging the language of the young generation as “bad language”. I have studied cross-generational variation of swearing in a corpus of 24 Danish conversations. The interlocutors were young girls aged 16 to 18 years, middle-aged women aged 37 to 46 years, and elderly ladies aged 68 to 78 years. Half of the dialogues were intra-generational, and the other half was inter-generational.
It is evident from the data that the opinion that young people swear more than other generations does not prove correct: The three age groups use the same amount of swearwords. But there is a difference in the types of swearwords used by the three generations. The adolescents use more English swearwords (e.g. fuck and shit) and swearwords related to ”the lower bodily functions” (that is, swearing related to faeces and sexuality) than the older generations. As opposed to this, the middle-aged and older generation preferentially use religious swearwords, that is celestial expressions (expressions with God and Heaven) and diabolic expressions (expressions with the Devil and Hell), and these two older generations also preferentially used swearwords related to illness (e.g. the expression kraftedeme, meaning ‘may cancer eat...
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