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date: 17 January 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter describes from a psychological point of view two aspects of taboo word use in American English: the ways people use taboo words to express themselves and the ways people comprehend taboo word expressions. Expression topics selected here include: spoken frequency, verbal fluency, personality traits, emotion expression, anger and frustration, name calling, humor, and coping with pain. Interpretation topics selected include: connotation and denotation, word offensiveness, frequency judgments, fighting words, sexual harassment, and pragmatic contextual variables. The production of expressions with taboo words, as well as the interpretation of them, depends on contextual variables encompassing the expressions including: the speaker–listener relationship and their ages, the social and physical context, and the intended meaning and emotional valence of the expression. Universal statements cannot be made about the production or interpretation of taboo word expressions due to the influence of contextual variables.

Keywords: swearing, taboo words, cursing, emotion expression, connotation, pragmatics

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