What Is Taboo And Obscenity?

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TWs can not be fully understood without a clear discussion of their different types and categories. Jay (1996) classified dirty words by their connotation rather than by their denotation into different categories : Taboo, obscenity, vulgarity, blasphemy, profanity, insults, expletive, cursing and slang (as cited in Holster, 2005). These types of TWs can not be separated completely as they always overlap with each other. For instance, when you use a curse word in front of others, you are probably insulting them. Taboo and Obscenity The term taboo and obscenity are used interchangeably to refer to the type of words which are totally prohibited in the society. This includes TWs which refer to the intimate parts of the body, the body’s…show more content…
Insults The next category is insults. Insults are usually " used by speakers primarily to identify members that possess certain descriptive features (e.g, race) and to derogate them on that basis " (Croom, 2013, p.179).They are the kind of words or expressions which are used to describe individuals or a group of people without any pejorative meaning but they have become insults and taboo expressions over time. What makes them taboo is the intention of the speaker to offend or hurt others. Further, Fielder (2007) defined this term as " a mean thing someone says to hurt another person’s feelings. People may use insults because they are angry, jealous, or have low self-esteem " (p.05). One of the most offensive insults is the ones which " refer to alleged sexual exploits involving somebody’s mother or sister " (Ljung, 2011, p. 32). Jay (1992) provided another example of insults namely the words ‘whore ‘or ‘bastard’ .…show more content…
Cursing and Slang According to the Oxford English Dictionary (1999), cursing is “uttering against (persons or things) words which consign […] them to evil spiritual or temporal, as the wrath of God or the malignity of fate”. Ljung (2011) points out that " curses tend to contain either a subjunctive verb form, as in ‘The devil take you’ or a modal auxiliary as in ‘May the devil take you " (p.31). However, "today they are more used in abbreviated form as in ‘Fuck you’ " (ibid, pp.31_32). Ayoto and Simpson (1992) defined slang as a kind of “very informal language that includes new and sometimes not polite words and meanings” (as cited in Stenström, 2000, p.90). It is mostly used as “name-calling, gender-related insults, sexuality and discrimination” (Jay, 1999, p.175). It is difficult to draw a line between the concepts of slang and cursing as they are used sometimes interchangeably to refer to a set of rude words and it is believed that slang is a subcategory of cursing as pointed out by Jay (ibid) : “Cursing includes categories such as slang […] slang is an important part of offensive words” (p.
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