Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Show Summary Details
More options …

Journal of Politeness Research

Language, Behaviour, Culture

Ed. by Grainger, Karen

IMPACT FACTOR 2018: 0.652
5-year IMPACT FACTOR: 1.667

CiteScore 2018: 1.24

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 0.785
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2018: 1.150

See all formats and pricing
More options …

The pragmatics of swearing

Timothy Jay / Kristin Janschewitz
Published Online: 2008-08-05 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/JPLR.2008.013


The main purpose of swearing is to express emotions, especially anger and frustration. Swear words are well suited to express emotion as their primary meanings are connotative. The emotional impact of swearing depends on one's experience with a culture and its language conventions. A cognitive psychological framework is used to account for swearing in a variety of contexts and provide a link to impoliteness research. In support of this framework, native and non-native English-speaking college students rated the offensiveness and likelihood of hypothetical scenarios involving taboo words. The ratings demonstrated that appropriateness of swearing is highly contextually variable, dependent on speaker-listener relationship, social-physical context, and particular word used. Additionally, offensiveness ratings were shown to depend on gender (for native speakers) and English experience (for non-native speakers). Collectively these data support the idea that it takes time for speakers to learn where, when, and with whom swearing is appropriate.

Keywords:: swearing; rudeness; taboo words; profanity; verbal aggression; impoliteness

About the article

Published Online: 2008-08-05

Published in Print: 2008-07-01

Citation Information: Journal of Politeness Research. Language, Behaviour, Culture, Volume 4, Issue 2, Pages 267–288, ISSN (Online) 1613-4877, ISSN (Print) 1612-5681, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/JPLR.2008.013.

Export Citation

Citing Articles

Here you can find all Crossref-listed publications in which this article is cited. If you would like to receive automatic email messages as soon as this article is cited in other publications, simply activate the “Citation Alert” on the top of this page.

Shaila Sultana
Journal of Multicultural Discourses, 2019, Page 1
Mi-Kyoung Cho, Hee Chong Baek, and Gisoo Shin
Journal of Psychosocial Nursing and Mental Health Services, 2019
Mark Williams, Michelle Butler, Anna Jurek-Loughrey, and Sakir Sezer
Contemporary Social Science, 2019, Page 1
Sambulo Ndlovu
South African Journal of African Languages, 2018, Volume 38, Number 3, Page 285
Merlyn A. Griffiths
Journal of Product & Brand Management, 2018
Catherine Doherty, Adon Berwick, and Rowena McGregor
Linguistics and Education, 2018, Volume 48, Page 1
Timothy Jay
Journal of Language Aggression and Conflict, 2018, Volume 6, Number 1, Page 107
Yongwoog Andrew Jeon, Brent Hale, Eric Knackmuhs, and Michael Mackert
Interactive Journal of Medical Research, 2018, Volume 7, Number 1, Page e6
Agus Wijayanto, Aryati Prasetyarini, and Mauly Halwat Hikmat
SAGE Open, 2017, Volume 7, Number 3, Page 215824401773281
Jean M. Twenge, Hannah VanLandingham, and W. Keith Campbell
SAGE Open, 2017, Volume 7, Number 3, Page 215824401772368
Ashley Muddiman and Natalie Jomini Stroud
Journal of Communication, 2017, Volume 67, Number 4, Page 586
Nicoletta Cavazza and Margherita Guidetti
Journal of Language and Social Psychology, 2014, Volume 33, Number 5, Page 537
Kiel Christianson, Peiyun Zhou, Cassie Palmer, and Adina Raizen
Acta Psychologica, 2017, Volume 178, Page 73
J. J. Tomash and Phil Reed
The Analysis of Verbal Behavior, 2013, Volume 29, Number 1, Page 109
Patricia Rosenberg, Sverker Sikström, and Danilo Garcia
Journal of Language and Social Psychology, 2017, Volume 36, Number 3, Page 306
Yehuda Baruch, Rea Prouska, Ariane Ollier-Malaterre, and Jennifer Bunk
Journal of Managerial Psychology, 2017, Volume 32, Number 2, Page 149
Monica Rubini, Alessandra Roncarati, Marcella Ravenna, Flavia Albarello, Silvia Moscatelli, and Gün R. Semin
Journal of Language and Social Psychology, 2017, Volume 36, Number 2, Page 226
Samantha E. Tuft, Conor T. MᶜLennan, and Maura L. Krestar
The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 2016, Page 1
Ursula Lutzky and Andrew Kehoe
International Journal of Corpus Linguistics, 2016, Volume 21, Number 2, Page 165
Boyd Davis, Margaret Maclagan, and Dena Shenk
Journal of Language Aggression and Conflict, 2016, Volume 4, Number 1, Page 35
Boyd Davis
Journal of Language Aggression and Conflict, 2016, Volume 4, Number 1, Page 1
Christopher R. Madan, Andrea T. Shafer, Michelle Chan, and Anthony Singhal
The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 2017, Volume 70, Number 4, Page 793
Rania Karachaliou and Argiris Archakis
Pragmatics and Society, 2015, Volume 6, Number 3, Page 421
Mark A. Generous, Marian L. Houser, and Seth S. Frei
Communication Research Reports, 2015, Volume 32, Number 3, Page 216
Adam M. Croom
Language Sciences, 2011, Volume 33, Number 3, Page 343
Adam M. Croom
Language & Communication, 2013, Volume 33, Number 3, Page 177
Indika Liyanage, Tony Walker, Brendan Bartlett, and Xuhong Guo
Language, Culture and Curriculum, 2015, Volume 28, Number 2, Page 113
Christopher R. Madan, Jeremy B. Caplan, Christine S.M. Lau, and Esther Fujiwara
Journal of Memory and Language, 2012, Volume 66, Number 4, Page 695
Mark A. Generous, Seth S. Frei, and Marian L. Houser
Communication Reports, 2015, Volume 28, Number 2, Page 128
Jay and Jay
The American Journal of Psychology, 2013, Volume 126, Number 4, Page 459
Diana Fidaoui and Rima Bahous
Journal of Multicultural Discourses, 2013, Volume 8, Number 1, Page 48

Comments (0)

Please log in or register to comment.
Log in