Thursday, September 30, 2010

Very Brief Literature Review/Swearing and emotion

The topic of lexicon variation is well covered in scholarly research. It appears there is a continuing debate in regard to the reasons for lexical variations and the level of significance in these variations. There is also a continuing debate as to which framework is most appropriate for analyzing those differences.

My hypothesis required a review of available literature on the topic of the use of spoken language by males and females and how the spoken language of males and females differs. Research and data on these differences frequently focus on issues of power and relationships and on how theories for analysis have changed in recent years. Jørgensen states, “In the past decade or so, a constructionist-inspired perspective has come to the fore in sociolinguistics in general, according to which the differences in language use are less an effect of language use than a means of creating social relations.” This is characteristic of the ongoing debate which focuses on how males and females acquire and use language and is relevant to my research in that it reflects the idea that spoken communication is more than a one person-one person interaction. Spoken language is a complex task which varies and evolves over time—even minute to minute—and those changes are a response to many variables.

At the outset of my research, I was pleased to locate data that supported my hypothesis that taboo word decreased by age. Jay’s data shows that taboo word use rates peak in the teenage years and decline thereafter. Jay’s data did support the common assertion that males use taboo words with higher frequency than females; however, the gap between male and female public swearing has decreased from males accounting for 67% of public swearing in 1986 to males accounting for 55% of public swearing in 2006.

To explore the other main point of my hypothesis, I searched for data on narrative content broken down by age and gender. I was unable to locate any current research on this topic; however, I did find research that supported the connection of speaker emotion to the use of taboo words. “The primary use of swearing is for emotional connotation…two-thirds of swearing data are linked to personal and interpersonal expressions of anger and frustration which seem to be the main reason for swearing…Taboo words persist because they intensify emotional communication to a degree that nontaboo words cannot.”

It was from this analysis that I framed the remainder of my research.

Work Cited

George, Alexander. 1990. “Whose Language is it Anyway? Some Notes on Idiolects.” The Philosophical Quarterly 40:160: 275-298.

Jay, Timothy. 2009. Perspectives on Psychological Science 4:2:153-161.

Jørgensen, Norman J. 2003. “Gender differences in the development of language choice patterns in the Køge Project.” International Journal of Bilingualism 7:4:353-377.

Schmidt, Stanley. 2002. “To Describe or Prescribe.” Analog Science Fiction & Fact 122:11:4-7.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

What's the deal with hypothesis

Significant gender differences persist in regard to lexicon, especially attitudes towards taboo words, and in choice of narrative content; gender differences are more pronounced with older generations.

Main Points of Hypothesis:

1. Generational factors play a larger role in the use of taboo words than gender factor in spoken English.

2. Generational factors play a larger role in narrative content than gender factor in spoken English.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

More on the topic of swearing and emotion

As the mother of two sons, I'm aware of the language differences between teenagers and adults, specifically in regard to lexicon. Both of my sons begin to take an active interest in taboo word use at about twelve years of age. My older son, now twenty, shows a marked decrease in taboo word use. My forty-eight year old husband shows a very marked decrease in taboo word use since I met him at age twenty.

I'm aware of the “common thinking” that males typically converse about non-emotional topics and that females typically converse about emotional topics; I am also aware of the “common thinking” that males use taboo words more frequently than females.

My personal experiences with my family members does not support these common assumptions regarding narrative content.

Because I was intrigued by the possibility of exploring generation (age) of speaker and how generation (age) impacted taboo word use as well as narrative content I researched topic of gender differences in regard to lexicon, especially taboo words, and narrative content.

More soon...

Sunday, September 19, 2010

What the hell...swearing in the classroom

I recently had a student comment on swearing in the classroom. I generally don't make an issue of it; it typically doesn't happen too often. However, the classroom can be a stressful place. So_students may occasionally swear. Especially if they feel pressured. And_pressuring them is part of my job. So_students do occasionally swear.

As with most topics of interest to me, I have written about it. Forthcoming will be that paper, orginally titled:

Chicks and Dudes—What’s Your Story?: Generational Differences in Regard to Lexicon and Narrative Content

If this were a commercial work, I'd say here's a blurb. But it's not. It's academic. Ergo we have the

The differences between male and female taboo word use in regard to frequency and purpose have, in recent years, been revisited in terms of new ideology and frameworks. The differences between male and female narrative content, in regard to emotional and/or non-emotional content, has been of longstanding linguistic interest. However, research has neglected to seek a understanding of how age of speaker relates to both taboo word use and narrative content.

This study shows a possible link among taboo word use, speaker age, and speaker emotion revealing that purpose—expression of emotion—is a factor in both taboo word use and selection of narrative content.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Critical thinking in the composition classroom

By describing the four major pedagogical approaches to teaching composition, Berlin suggests that not all composition classrooms are—or ever will be—the same. His analysis, by outlining the objectives of the writer and noting the corresponding pedagogical approaches employed to facilitate those objectives, reveals which theory places emphasis on independent, creative, and critical thought. Student writers working within the first three models are tasked primarily with the organization of existing truth, rather than with the challenge of uncovering truth.
The Neo-Platonist/Expressionists provide slightly more space for writer discovery; however, they believe truth to be external and unalterable by the writer. By contrast, the New Rhetoric model relies upon the critical thinking of the writer. In this model, truth is relativistic and shaped by the individual; therefore, the application of the theory requires original—critical—thought on part of the writer.

Berlin, James. "Contemporary Composition: The Major Pedagogical Theories." College English 44.8 (December 1982): 765-777.