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Profanity and Women - Essay Example

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When structuralism proclaims the arbitrary relationship between the signifier and the signified, which has left the speaker and their utterances all wrapped up in relative conventionalism and in the synchronicity of their diachrony; and ever since Simon de Beauvoir has written that one is not born a woman but rather becomes one, we have been provided with the legitimacy to question and challenge inherited social power structures and practices including linguistic ones (Beauvoir 1949/1992, p.281).
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Download file to see previous pages Profanity as utility is as much part of language and communication as the norm that defines it as a deviation (Jay, 2009, p.155). According to Jay through the use of taboo/swear words "one can achieve myriads of personal and social goals" (Jay, 2009, p.155). Thus combining the socio-physical context and overarching emotiveness of foul language. For it is at a personal level that the dogmatic inappropriateness of taboo words is initially perceived through inflicted punishment and restrictions. Its inadvertent use, however, conveys a necessity to go beyond the formally recognized means of expression. A psychological sociolinguistic reading of taboo language would probably best describe it as an articulated emotional trespassing. Being extreme in essence it is often associated with extreme emotions and states of mind such as anger, frustration, violence, etc. in the expression of which the two genders perform differently depending on their age and social ranking (Eckert & McConnell-Ginet,2003; James, 1998; Jay, 2009 ).
Course language and profanity have always existed in the discourse irrespective of language and culture. Profanity is a form of expression intended to convey a variety of feeling and emotions, as well as to intensify and emphasize a point in such a way that can not be paralleled by using correct and what are deemed appropriate words and expressions. Taboo words are used to express anger; they could be a form of rebellion against social norms as well as a means of belonging to a social group. Their frequent insertion between words in a sentence could be an involuntary way of phrasing, intending no harm and lacking significance, or it could simply be a way to fill the void of a limited vocabulary. Taboo words fall into a number of categories:
Taboos in English are placed primarily on sexual references (blow job, cunt) and on those that are considered profane or blasphemous (goddamn, Jesus Christ). Taboos extend to scatological referents and disgusting objects (shit, crap, douche bag); some animal names (bitch, pig, ass); ethnic-racial-gender slurs (nigger, fag, dago); insulting references to perceived psychological, physical, or social deviations (retard, wimp, lard ass); ancestral allusions (son of a bitch, bastard); substandard vulgar terms (fart face, on the rag); and offensive slang (cluster fuck, tit run). (Jay, 2009, p. 154)
In Language and Gender Eckert and McConnell-Ginet draw upon Robin Lakoff's 1970s theory about "women's language" (Eckert et al., 2003, p.158). They describe the choice of language utilized by women as historically, socially and culturally determined and sustained through existing power structures related to male dominance. Furthermore, a female is a priori perceived as powerless simply through positioning herself as a woman. Hence the language she uses is a "powerless language" and it prevents her from interactional effectiveness (Eckert et al., 2003, p.159). A type of language, which has been also attributed to other marginalized and discriminated against categories such as homosexuals and people of various racial and ethnic backgrounds.
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