The relevance of taboo language: an analysis of the indexical values of swearwords

2015-10-02T10:57:10Z (GMT) by Christine Christie
In this paper I argue that approaching linguistic formulae from an indexical perspective can generate a set of research questions that have the potential to open up the study of (im)politeness phenomena so that it is possible to address the range of meanings a resource might generate in a given culture at a given moment in time. I show some of the regularities that come to light through a mapping of the indexical field of strong swearwords and argue that the evaluative behaviour evident in news reports can provide evidence of the potential meanings that uses of taboo language can generate in contemporary British culture. I also argue that approaching taboo language from a discursive pragmatic perspective, by interrogating the contextual assumptions that are needed to make sense of interpretations of specific uses of swearwords, the active assignment of indexical values to swearwords is brought into view.