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In the company of the devil and Our Lord through three centuries: Swearing in Swedish dramas
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Languages, Department of Scandinavian Languages.
2014 (English)In: Swearing in the Nordic Countries / [ed] Marianne Rathje, Köpenhamn: Dansk sprognævn , 2014, 175-197 p.Chapter in book (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

This article presents results and conclusions from investigations of the swearing in a corpus of 45 Swedish dramas from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. The aim of the project was to capture the swearing of former times and changes over time as regards the use of various (kinds of) swear words, as well as attitudes and norms related to swearing in the past. The drama corpus has been an excellent resource for the purpose. Dramas, being imitations of oral conversation, contain swear words to an extent far beyond what one find in texts of other genres. Furthermore, studying playwrights’ use of the stylistically marked swearwords to characterise their various role figures is rewarding, which partly compensates for the drawback that the drama texts are essentially fictive conversations. The investigations reveal, for instance, that celestial swear words, harmless today, were probably more banned than diabolic swear words in the early 1700s, and that swearing as a whole was more stigmatized in the late 1800s than before or after this period. It is also likely that the swearing in the dramas reflects the transition of Sweden from a society of estates to a modern class society. In the former kind of society, people of different social backgrounds used somewhat different swear words. This kind of differentiation is less apparent later. There is, on the other hand, no clear evidence of gender differences when it comes to swearing in the very first plays. Later plays, however, clearly reveal different norms for men’s and women’s swearing.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Köpenhamn: Dansk sprognævn , 2014. 175-197 p.
, Sprognævnets konferenceserie, 2
Keyword [en]
swear words, historical swearing, drama language
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-220918ISBN: 978-87-89410-51-7OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-220918DiVA: diva2:707298
Available from: 2014-03-24 Created: 2014-03-24 Last updated: 2014-03-26

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Stroh-Wollin, Ulla
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