Offensive Language in Sex and the City : A study of male and female characters’ use of taboo words

University essay from Karlstads universitet/Estetisk-filosofiska fakulteten

Abstract: There are words and topics of conversation that are considered taboo and offensive in the English language. Offensive words can be divided into different categories, based on the way they are used and in what situation. Topics of conversation that are considered taboo are for example sexual activity and death. Men and women are said to use language differently, in a number of areas. One of these areas concerns offensive language. It is considered masculine to swear and women are prone to use euphemisms more than men, i.e. the mildest form possible of an offensive word. Studies have shown that men and women feel more comfortable using taboo language with members of the same sex than with members of the opposite sex. This paper aims to study the differences in language use between men and women and apply the findings on eight episodes of the American television series Sex and the City, with focus on offensive language. The purpose is to study whether or not the female characters of the show use a typically male language and if they do, if it could be a reason for them being perceived as strong women.

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