Gender differences in the usage of mild versus strong swearwords and their pre-modifying adjectives : An analysis of findings in the BNC2014

University essay from Högskolan i Gävle/Avdelningen för humaniora

Abstract: This essay presents a study on gender differences with a focus on mild and strong swearwords and their pre-modifying adjectives when describing a person, based on findings from the BNC2014. Previous research implies that men and women use different types of swearwords, suggesting that men tend to use stronger language than women. The aim of this study is to investigate the usage of strong versus mild swearwords to analyze if there are differences in frequency and use of pre-modifying adjectives across gender. A set of mild swearwords (cow, git) and strong swearwords (dick, cunt) from Ofcom’s scale of offensiveness (Ofcom, 2016) was used to manually compare how men and women tend to differ in the way they use these words. Previous research on swearing in connection to gender, offensiveness, and pre-modifying adjectives is presented as well as a definition of the swearwords. The results show that the usage of mild and strong language is equally used in male and female speakers and that negative and other pre-modifying adjectives are most used together with these words. Hopefully, the findings in this study could shed more light on the topic of gender differences and swearing.

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