The Function Of Profanity In Modern English

Table Of Contents .
Chapter 1- Introduction and Clarification
Chapter 2- Everyday Usage of Profanity
Chapter 3- How Profanity Offends
Chapter 4- A Look at the Literal Meanings and Taboo
Chapter 5- Phatic and Emotive Language
Chapter 6- The Employment of Substitutes
Chapter 7- A Brief Historical Perspective
Chapter 8- The Use of Profanity in the Media
Chapter 9- Conclusions

Chapter 1- Introduction and Clarification

Since the beginning of the English language, there have existed certain
words that were considered by the majority to be taboo, or not to be spoken
in polite discourse. Over the centuries, these words ...

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popularization of such
vocabulary create the need for new words with the same taboo status as the
original words? To summarize: Does profanity serve a useful purpose in the
English language?

In order to answer a question this complex, certain guidelines must be set.
The word "profanity" has a long list of taboo words associated with it, not
all of which can be accommodated within such a short study. It is therefore
necessary to limit which words we consider. Since this is a study of modern
English, the words should be representative of the kind of profanity used
today. In his superb study "Swearing," Geoffrey Hughes said:

...A major shift has occurred in comparatively recent times in that a quite
different emphasis has become dominant. The 'lower' physical faculties of
copulation, defecation and urination have come very much to the fore as
referents in swearing.

Therefore it seems appropriate to choose a set of 'four-letter words' in
American English, known by american linguists ...

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ideas or even emotions from one person to another. Therefore, any word
that assists in this transfer can be considered both useful and purposeful.
It should be noted, however, that there are different degrees of usefulness.
Our choice of words in communication indicates our preference of one word
over another, revealing our belief that a certain word is more useful for
communicating a certain idea than any other in our active vocabulary.

With these terms defined, it is now possible to rephrase a question in a
way that facilitates a clear and equally defined response. The new question
would look something like: Do the words fart, piss, shit, fuck, cock and
cunt serve to aid in ...

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The Function Of Profanity In Modern English. (2004, July 9). Retrieved December 12, 2018, from
"The Function Of Profanity In Modern English.", 9 Jul. 2004. Web. 12 Dec. 2018. <>
"The Function Of Profanity In Modern English." July 9, 2004. Accessed December 12, 2018.
"The Function Of Profanity In Modern English." July 9, 2004. Accessed December 12, 2018.
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Added: 7/9/2004 05:25:58 PM
Category: English
Type: Premium Paper
Words: 3807
Pages: 14

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