Young South African adults’ attitudes towards the use of obscene language

Du Plessis, Nicola (2018-03)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2018.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This study is concerned primarily with the examination of obscene language as it functions in South African society. Specifically, this study aims to discern how young adults perceive obscene language and under which circumstances this type of language is deemed to be socially acceptable. From a theoretical perspective the study is conducted with a pragmatic framework, as the analysis of language use are considered within the context in which it is used. Additionally, it is founded upon the notion of communicative competence, which is understood as the speaker’s ability to use appropriate language in a given context to attain a particular objective. The participants who were engaged in the study were first language English speakers within an age range of 18 to 25. The procedure applied to collect data from the participants involved three stages. The first part entails the completion of a questionnaire in which participants are asked to rate a series of obscenities on a scale of 1 to 10. The second part of the data collection process included qualitative interviews. During the interviews the participants were exposed to hypothetical dialogues and were asked to respond to questions about the obscenities used in these scenarios. The third and final part of the data collection methodology involved a focus group in which they were asked to discuss the use of obscene language within a South Africa context. The results from the study revealed that male participants in this age group were more inclined to harness the use of obscenities as a form of social connection with others. The female participants in this group considered the release of overwhelming emotions as being the most powerful function of the use of obscenities. They regarded the alleviation of negative energy also as a primary function of the use of obscene language. Male participants again, considered the use of obscene language as being predominantly the creation of comedy and humour. The results from the study showed conclusively that the use of racist language is considered as being the most offensive type of obscenity that could be used by participants. The data revealed that most participants avoid the use of obscenities in the presence of their parents and elderly persons. It is evident that participants are aware of the existing differences between the various generations in terms of linguistic preferences.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie studie is daarop gerig om die beskouinge van jong volwasse Suid-Afrikaners rakende die gebruik van onwelvoeglike taal onder die loep te plaas. Dis daarop gemik om pertinent te bepaal in welke omstandighede sulke taalgebruik sosiaal en in die werkplek aanvaarbaar sal wees.Teorieties word die studie binne ‘n verwysingsraamwerk geloods aangesien taalgebruik beskou word as synde onderhewig aan die konteks waarbinne dit gebesig word. Daarbenewens is dit fundeer op die konsep van komunikatiewe bevoegdheid, wat op sy beurt dui op ‘n spreker se vermoeë om die gepaste taal in ‘n gegewe konteks te gebruik ten einde ‘n vooropgestelde doel te bereik. Deelnemers aan die studie was eerstetaal Engelssprekendes wat geval het binne die ouderdomsgroep 18 tot 25 jaar. Die dataversamelingsprosedure het drie fases behels: eerstens het dit die voltooiing van ‘n vraelys vereis waarin die deelnemers gevra is om vloekwoorde op ‘n skaal van 1 tot 10 te plaas. Die tweede deel daarvan het deelnemers onderwerp aan ‘n deelname aan hipotetiese dialoë en is hulle versoek om te reageer op obsessies wat tydens hierdie sessies ervaar is. Die derde deel is daarop gemik om van deelnemers ‘n bespreking te ontlok om die gebruik van onwelvoeglike taal te bespreek in plaaslike konteks, oftewel, oor die aanwending daarvan hier te lande. Die uitslag hiervan het beslissend getoon dat mans binne die gemelde teikengroep meer geneë is om informele en los taal te gebruik as hulle vroulike tydgenote. Vroue weer wat in hierdie groep resorteer, beskou op hulle beurt, die mees prominente funksie van onbetaamlike taalgebruik as ‘n effektiewe werkswyse vir die ontlading van oorweldigende emosies. Mans in hierdie groep weer, het ‘n opvatting dat die hooffunksie van die gebruik van gekruide taal gemik is op komedie en humor. Die studie het ook onteenseglik daarop gedui dat die gebruik van rassistiese taal hier te lande aangemerk word as verreweg die mees aanstootlike vorm en graad van onwelvoeglike taalgebruik. Die analise van gevalle dui onteenseglik daarop dat hierdie taalgebruik taboe is, veral ten aanhore van oues van dae en senior burgers uit ‘n vergange era. Vloekery in hulle teenwoordigheid, veral binne hoorafstand van vroue, is steeds sosiaal verwerplik. Dit is ook eweneens duidelik dat die deelnemers gewis bedag is op die sosiale afkeer teen die gebruik van onwelvoeglike taal wanneer beide geslagte teenwoordig is in ‘n geselskap.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/103693
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