Pragmatic dimensions of Swedish insults in the 1600s
2014 (English)In: Swearing in the Nordic Countries / [ed] Marianne Rathje, Köpenhamn, 2014, 151-173 p.Conference paper (Refereed)
This paper investigates verbal insults recorded in judicial protocols in the Swedish university town Uppsala during the 1630s. The aim of the study is to analyze insults as linguistic formulations and social acts in Early Modern Swedish society and to highlight the difference between two speech communities: a predominant literal culture at the university and a mainly oral culture in the town. The methodology of the text research is guided by speech act theory and multidimensional analytical model of insults proposed within the field of historical pragmatics.
Clear patterns emerge in the investigation by performing various semantic-, pragmatic-, and discourse-level analyses of the judicial records. Central to the utterances with an insult is the invective, which is the derogative person-characterizing noun. They occur in many variants but the most frequent ones are thief and whore. Insults among city people were commonly interpreted as truth-conditional representative speech acts and thereby were viewed as false accusations of various kinds. In the academic world, however, the truth value of the insult was of minor importance. The speech act was regarded mainly as an expressive utterance of anger and frustration.
Through a comparison of the city and university judicial records, it is shown that the patterns of insults reveal a synchronic sociolinguistic variation which reveals an ongoing semantic process in which primarily concrete, objective meanings come to fulfill increasingly interpersonal and pragmatic speech functions.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Köpenhamn, 2014. 151-173 p.
, Sprognaevnets konferenceserie, ISSN 2245-1544 ; 2
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-219348ISBN: 978-87-89410-51-7OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-219348DiVA: diva2:699360
Symposium on Swearing in the Nordic Countries, Copenhagen 6 December 2012