Most Jordanians are religiously committed. Islam is the main religion in Jordan. Therefore, in the religious domain, Islamic customs affect people\’s lives and behaviors. One of these customs that Jordanians tend to use is swearing. It is used to confirm speeches, attitudes, promises and beliefs. Swearing words are commonly used throughout society. They are noticeable and heard from university students, people in markets or in streets on the way to work, or even out in their communities. These words are also used in the mass media including television, radio stations, movie theaters, as well as magazines and newspapers. Jordanians from all walks of life use swearing words. Children, teenagers, and adults utter them. A huge number of swearing words are used by Jordanians, especially religious words such as (wallah, by God), (qasaman billah, I swear by God), (wiħyat Allah, by the life of Allah),(biṣalatak, by your prayer), and others like honor words (bi؟arḍ uxtak, by the honor of your sister) and so on. Acceptance of these words varies from person to person, from one community to another and it is affected by situation.
Swearing can be classified under social politeness. Brown (1976) says that politeness is” a special way of treating people, saying and doing things in such a way as to take into account other people\’s feelings”. Social politeness includes various social customs like greetings, partings, invitations, thanks, swearing, condolences, and congratulations. Beebe (1995) explains that swearing can be either polite or impolite. It is polite when it promotes social harmony (e.g. wallahi ra\’i؟, by the name of God that is a nice thing) or reinforces persons. It is rude or impolite when it is used to affront or attack and threat someone (e.g. wallahi la a\’ḍrobak, by the name of God I will beat you).
1.2. Definition of Swearing
It has been noted that swearing words are substitutions for words, phrases or expressions that may assert or confirm something. The word “swear” has been defined as” to assert or promise emphatically or earnestly” (Online Merriam-Webster Dictionary, 2015). The word has also been defined in the Oxford Dictionary as” Make a solemn statement or promise undertaking to do something or affirming that something is the case “(Online Oxford Dictionary, 2015). Montagu (1967:100) indicates that swear words include “all words possessing or capable of being given an emotional weight”.
Jay (2000) adds that swearing is the use of taboo or inappropriate words with the purposes of expressing the speaker\’s emotional states and communicating that information to listener.
Irrespective of above-mentioned, Jay and Janschewitz (2008:269) argue that “swearing is impossible to be universally defined because it is culturally and personally determined”. In addition, Locher and Watts (2005) say what is impolite can\’t be universally constructed since it depends upon the relationship between interlocutors.
1.3. Sociolinguistic Perspective
Since sociolinguistics studies the relationship between language and society, it is unquestionable to say that swearing patterns are part of language that is studied under this science. Therefore, the effects of social factors (gender, age and educational background) can be noticeable in such patterns.
The age of speakers is one factor that may contribute to different views of swearing. Jay(1992:71) argues that children begin learning and using swear words in varying degrees of offensiveness from the time they start using language ,then the admonition of this behavior follows. Parents no longer are able to watch or listen to what their children say all the time. Simultaneously, the chance of using new swear words grows in the late teens and early twenties (Murray, 1990: 152).
Also, Kasper (1990) emphasizes that young children and non-native speakers require time and experience to attain an adult native speaker\’s knowledge of what is offensive or rude. Further, Holmes (1997: 199) handles some issues like identity, language and gender. She suggests that “women’s identity is signaled not so much by the choice of particular linguistic variants which contrast with those preferred by men, but rather by the ways in which women are often required to use language to construct a much wider range of social identities and express wider range of social roles than men”.
Jay (1992) demonstrates that men are more likely to swear in public than women and use more offensive words than women. However, both women and men are less likely to swear in mixed-sex contexts than in the same-sex contexts.
Murnen (2000: 319) adds “it\’s theorized that language is part of the ‘societal propaganda’ that communicates social roles for men and women in the realm of sexuality”. Regardless of language that someone speaks, it shapes identity and reflects cultures, including gender.
In Jordan the social factor that mostly affects the use of swearing words is the religious commitment. People who are religious follow the instructions of Allah and always try to avoid swearing by anything except Allah. Moreover, well-educated people avoid inappropriate words in swearing like (wiʃaraf ummi, by the honor of my mother).Furthermore, we cannot ignore the importance of the situation or when someone utters the swear words in places like courts, mosques or when he speaks with high-ranking persons.
The likelihood of hearing swearing words increases in informal environments more than in formal ones. For instance, schools or universities are the most likely places to hear swearing words, whereas in academic offices or classes these words are the least likely to be heard.
Besides the effects of social factors (gender, age and educational background) on swearing, the social distance and social status of the participants should be considered in the interpretation of swearing behavior. The relations between speakers and listeners such as friends, roommates, coworkers and classmates differ from the relations among people who are related to different social groups.
The degree of solidarity among speakers and listeners determines swearing utterances within such contexts. The difference in social status such as the relationship between teacher and students, doctor and patients, and employer and employees influences the choice of language and the type of words that are used in swearing context.
1.4.1. Swearing Words in Jordanian Arabic
Numerous words, expressions and terms are used to express different swearing patterns. They are coined by Jordanians to emphasize and assert their promises, speeches, emotions and attitudes. Hence, the researcher classifies swearing patterns into eight categories:
1. Swearing by the name of God( Allah)
These words are commonly used by people regardless of their social background. In this case, the speakers usually use the name of God (Allah) to form a swearing term. For example, the speaker utters words such (wallah, by God), (qasaman bilah, I swear by God), (wallah al-؟\’ðeem) (wiħyat Allah , by the life of Allah), (wirab elbait, by the lord of ka؟ba).
2. Swearing by the name of the prophet
The name of prophet here refers to our prophet Mohammad (pray and praise be upon him). Jordanians use many examples to express swearing in such way like (biṣalat Mohammad, by the prayer of Mohammed) (wiħyat innabi, by the life of the prophet) (wiħyat irrasoul, by the life of the messenger) and (biṣalat Mohammad ؟alik, by the prayer of Mohammad upon you).
3. Swearing by religious duties
Most Jordanians are Muslims and they perform several religious duties such as (ṣalah) prayer, (ṣiam) fasting, (Zakah) paying money, (Haj) pilgrimage and (؟Umra ) small pilgrimage.
Speakers can use the words of their religious duties to coin various swearing patterns that are observable in everyday life such as (biṣalatk, by your prayer), (biṣymak, by your fasting), (weṣymai, by my fasting), (biħajak, by your pilgrimage), (bizakatak, by your money that you pay for God) and (bi؟umrtak, by your small pilgrimage).
4. Swearing by honor words
Although honor words are considered as taboo or impoliteness, many people especially young and adult speakers still use them abundantly. Honor (ʃaraf or ؟erdh) in Jordan is a sensitive issue because it refers to females (sisters, mothers, daughters and aunts).
Jordanian speakers form swearing patterns by comprising the word (ʃaraf or ؟erdh) to one of relative female words like mother, sister and daughter. The following examples show how people swear (wiʃaraf ummi, by the honor of my mother), (wiʃaraf uxti, by the honor of my sister), wi؟ardh banati, by the honor of my daughters), (wiʃaraf ummak, by honor of your mother), (bi؟rdh xawatk, by the honor of your sisters).
5. Swearing by religion (deen)
Religion plays important role in Jordanians\’ lives, so speakers use the word “deen” frequently in forming swearing terms such as (wideeni, by my religion,) (wideenak, by your religion), (wideen Mohammad, by the religion of Mohammad),( wideenkuu, by your religion)(bedeenkuu, by your religion).
6. Swearing by relatives\’ life
Jordanians respect their relatives especially elderly people such as mothers, fathers, parents and children. There are plenty of examples on these patterns such as (wiħyat ummak , by the life of your mother), (wiħyat uxtak, by the life of sister), (wiħyat ummi, by the life of my mother),( biħyat abuuk, by the life of your father) biħyat elɣali؟indak, by the life of your dearest).
7. Swearing by parts of body
Jordanians swear by parts of the body to express their pride and ability to do something. Some parts of the body are used to form swearing such as (eyes, head, mustache, beard and forelock). These parts are important because they reflect manhood and high social value of customs. For instance, (wimen sharbi, by my mustache), (men liħeti, by my beard) and (wimen qistti, by my forelock); this term is used solely by women).
8. Using the word swear (uqsem)
Some swear words begin with verbs such as uksem and ahllif to emphasize something. For example, (aħlif billah, I swear by God), (qassamn billah, I swear by God) (aħlif bilmuṣħaf, I swear by muṣħaf), (uksem, I swear).
1.4.2. Constituents of swearing terms
Classifications of swearing terms according to the researcher show that many of them contain words such as Allah, prophet, life, honor, relative expressions and parts of the body. Moreover, the usage of prepositions (wa and bi) is salient. Also, most swearing patterns begin with names whereas few of them initiate with verbs.
1.5. Statement of the Problem
Swearing patterns have a very observable presence in Jordanian Arabic and different forms of swearing are used all over the country. Moreover, the terms of swearing which are formed in various ways and are affected by a number of social factors play an important role in the lives of most Jordanians. Swearing expressions of various ways by different people represent the problem the proposed study will address.
1.6. Purpose of the Study
The main goal of this study is to explore and to analyze swear words that are socially used by Jordanian speakers. Moreover, it aims at analyzing what is acceptable or unacceptable among the speakers of Jordanian Arabic from a sociolinguistic perspective.
1.7. Significance of the Study
It is assumed that the current study will help Jordanians to be aware of the power of language and its role that affects people\’s relations. In addition, this study helps in understanding when, where, how, and why these words are used and to recognize the values associated with them, and to know which of these words are acceptable or unacceptable. Furthermore, it identifies the most common swearing words used by Jordanians and the most frequent words used by males and females. This study is also significant because it fills a gap in the literature.
1.8. Limitations of the Study
This study will be limited to a small number of participants, 200 respondents, from different age groups, gender and level of education in the north of Jordan mainly Irbid. Swearing terms in other parts of the country are beyond the scope of this study.
1.9. Questions of the study
The study tries to answer the following questions:
1- What are the most frequent words used in swearing by the speakers of Jordanian Arabic?
2- Do gender, age and the level of education of the speakers affect the use of these patterns?
3- What are people\’s attitudes toward swearing?
1.10.1. Data Collection
The data of this study will include swearing words used by speakers of Jordanian Arabic. To fish the required data, the researcher will adopt a personal observation method, an interviewing method and a questionnaire to collect appropriate and relevant data. Prior to the construction of the questionnaire, the researcher will interview some Jordanians of different age, gender, and educational level to discuss the swearing patterns that they usually and frequently tend to use. The responses of the participants and what the researcher himself observes will serve as a basis for constructing the questionnaire.
The researcher will use the questionnaire in Arabic to guarantee full understanding by respondents. Also, he will conduct several interviews with the participants.
1.10.3. Data analysis
After the required data are collected, the data will be analyzed in accordance with the different items of the problems of study. The researcher collects the questionnaires and checks them one by one to see whether there are unfilled ones or some that do not returned back. Then, the researcher fills the responses using Microsoft Office Excel sheets. The researcher analyzes these responses depending on the sociolinguistics perspective factors such as: age, gender, educational back ground and place of residence.
There is a huge gap between Arabic and western culture. Jay and Janschewitz (2008) claim that ” Sociocultural influences on swearing vary from culture to culture and take some time and experience within a culture to be fully appreciated” (p: 272). In addition, the sensitivity of this topic prompts the researcher to avoid inappropriate and cussing words in swearing and choose what is appropriate for Jordanian culture. The difference between the two cultures explains why we can\’t get full benefit of foreign resources. Furthermore, the interest of Arab linguists in this topic is very little and the studies have a limited concern.
2.2. Arabic Studies
Swearing is widely used in Arabic culture whether intentionally or unintentionally. People swear by everything, for anything and on any occasion. In the pre-Islamic period, people used to swear by their fathers, tribes, worldly objects, swords, idols and everything except Allah. After the advent of Islam and revelation of Glorious Qur\’an, swearing by such things became prohibited acts and type of profanity.
Therefore, the Glorious Qur\’an and Al-Hadeeth warn people not to swear by anything except by Allah. On the one hand, God says (فلا تجعلوا لله اندادا وأنتم تعلمون) (البقرة:22) then set not up rivals unto Allah when ye know (the truth)(Al-Baqarah: 22). On the other hand, God uses swear words many times in the Glorious Qur\’an. He swears by Himself, the Sun, the Moon, Heavens (e.g. warrabbu issamawat wal? rdh, by the God of heavens and Earth), Earth, the holy city of Mecca.
Moreover, our prophet Mohammad (peace and praise be upon him) urges us to avoid swearing by anything except the name of Allah. The prophet also adds (لا تحلفوا بآبائكم ولا بأمهاتكم ولا بالأنداد، ولا تحلفوا بالله إلا وأنتمصادقون) (سنن ابي داوود, كتاب الايمان والنذور: باب في كراهية الحلف بالآباء).
Don\’t swear by your fathers and your mothers then swear not the rivals, and don\’t swear by Allah except when you are sincere. (Sunan Al-Termi\’thi).
Abedel-Jawad (2000) has carried out a linguistic, sociopragmatic and cultural study on swearing in Arabic, especially Jordanian Arabic.
In his study, he divides swearing into three main types: judiciary oaths which are formally practiced at courts, constitutional or office oaths which are taken by senior officials and conversational oaths (CS). This is the type of swearing uttered by people in everyday life and in routine
interactions between interlocutors. The first two types have fixed patterns and occur in particular situations, they are legally connected.
Abedel-Jawad (2000) focuses on the third type namely; conversational swearing (CS). He analyzes the structure of (CS), the (CS) referents e.g. what is sworn by, and their sociocultural and ideological significance, discourse distribution of (CS) showing speech acts that (CS) performs and the communicative function of (CS) serves in each situation. Furthermore, he characterizes conversational swearing as follows:
1. CS is not legally binding when a swearer breaks his oath.
2. It is linguistically varied and occurs in a wide variety not only on divine deity but also on multiplicity of swearing objects and different entities.
3. CS is not limited to particular domains, context or events. Moreover, it\’s used by most people to perform many types of
Abdedel-Jawad (2000:238) emphasizes that “swearing is done basically to confirm a proposition, of whatever type, then we can assume that there is a presupposed doubt or suspicion or fear in the mind of the speaker that his interlocutors may not believe him or take what he is saying seriously”. For instance, someone asked his friend (ween roħet imabareħ) where did you go yesterday? He replied (wallahi imbarħ roħet ؟ajjam؟ah, by Allah, I went to the university). The use of the swear word (wallhi, by Allah) confirms the proposition, and saves the speaker\’s face.
Abedel-Jawad, (2000:238) emphasizes that intonation of swearing is very expressive. The interlocutors try to raise their own voices to achieve different functions such as threatening and persuading something. For example, friends in a restaurant may exchange swear words or oaths and raise their voices to be more persuasive and get the honor of paying for the food.
The finding of his study exhibits different degrees of variation in form, usage and function of the swearing. Moreover, it serves different linguistic functions depending upon the context and the culture within the same community.
Almutlaq (2013) presents two factors that mostly affect using swear words in colloquial Jordanian Arabic.
1. Religious commitment. People who follow the instructions of Allah try to avoid swearing by anything except Allah.
2. Education. Well-educated people avoid using inappropriate terms such as (wiʃaraf ummi, by the honor of my mother).
Almutlaq (2013) proposes that some swearwords are connected with social values. For example, if one swears by his mustache and doesn\’t accomplish what he swears for, he will shave it. This considers a taboo since mustache represents a high social value of manhood. Another term which can cause a social problem is swearing by divorce. If the swearer does not do what he swears for, he may divorce his wife, causing a social problem.
Aliakbari and et al (2013) have conducted a study to investigate the nature of swearing expressions in Persian. The data were collected from daily conversations and divided into different sub-categories. Most of these data such as swearing by Allah, holly times, parts of body, the prophet and relatives show a great degree of similarities with the taxonomies provided by Abedel-Jawad (2000).
Additionally, they go along with Abedel-Jawad (2000) by saying that the similarities of swearing patterns in both cultures are originally religious in nature. They have added that the expansion and the presence of loan Arabic swearwords among Iranian swear words (بالله, by Allah) and, وغروب الغاربين), by the sunset of those who have been departed from their hometown) show” the footprints of cultural and lingual relations of one or both sides of an interaction” (Aliakbari and et al 2013: 56).
In standard Arabic, the swearing structure is divided into three parts:
First, swearing particles (waw alqasam, ba\’a alqasam and ta\’a alqasam)walahi, billahi and tallahi.
Second, the nominal swearing which is a type of structure that begins with a name such as ( ؟amr, yameen and ayman).
Third, verbal swearing. This type of structure begins with a verb such as ( uqsem ,ihlaf, qasama).
2.3 History of Swearing
Swearing has a long history of practice; the word “swear” or “swearing” reveals its Christian origin, with the tradition of oath which dates back to the sixth century (Hughes :1998).
Vicens (2014) examines Muslims oaths that are found in Christian legal texts in the medieval and early modern Iberia. His study explains the development of Arabic formula of swearing from the twelfth to sixteenth century. Both Christian and Islamic texts emphasize that Muslims swear by God at that time. Additionally, the study indicates that Muslims in al-Andalus, who followed Maliki tradition, preferred oath formula” bi-l-Lah illaði la ilah ailla Huwa. (By God, there is no other god but He) (P: 131).”
Harris (1987) warns of the possibility of mixing between the history of swearing and the history of swear words. The history of swearing reveals its origin as Christian oaths and curses, with the traditions of swear words in English which date back to the sixth century (Montagu, 1967).In the middle ages, women were criticized for using swear words while men were banned from using swear words in the presence of women (Hughes, 1992:292).
Montagu (1967: 71) states “Like most other human traits, swearing is a learned form of human behavior in cultures and under conditions in which it is encouraged”. So, the environment, situations, contexts and interaction among the interlocutors influence the speakers to learn such patterns of swearing.Anderson and Trudgill (1990: 15) argue that language reflects one\’s values “the sort of swearing that goes on in a particular language may tell you something about the values and beliefs of the speakers”.
2.4. Syntax of Swearing
Many linguists have confirmed that swearing and swear words are compatible with certain syntactic conventions. These conventions are as follows:
1. Swear words have different syntactic roles (Anderson and Trudgill, 1990). They can be nouns (wallah al؟ðˤeem), verbs (uqsimu billah), adjectives or adverbs. Some swear words, such as “qassaman” can be used as two or more parts of speech.
2. McMillan (1980) argues that swear words have productive characteristics. They can obtain new syntactic roles and be used to constitute new words or expressions by the processes of infixing and interposing, for example “billah؟alik” or “sayik ؟alik Allah”.
3. Swearing serves as force markers such as imperative or interrogative force. For example, (ihlif billah, swear by God) or “Go to hell!”(Ljung, 1989:185).
2.5. Pragmatics of Swearing
Jay (1992), Jay and Janschewitz (2008) demonstrate that swearing is contingent on some pragmatic variables such as speaker\’s( position, professions, gender and age), contextual factors (e.g. discourse type and the relationship with the interlocutors) and a type of word that is used in imprecation which carries greater or lesser face threat. Therefore, some swear words within a certain social group appear to be offensive or taboo to a person who does not belong to the same group. For example, swear by honor in collegiate community appears to be impolite to a person from another group.
Harris (1987: 187) claims that “swearwords become unmentionable precisely because institutionalized swearing is the unique and marginal case where locution and illocution are one: the utterance is the indeed and the indeed is utterance.”
Smith (1998:168) studies the social meaning of swearing in Russia. He states “much of the meaning of swearing depends upon context, upon the shared values and social intuitions of the speaker and addressee.” Swearing is controlled by situation, context and the relationships between people. For example, what is acceptable or appropriate in a particular situation becomes unacceptable or inappropriate in a different one.
2.6. Swearing and Mass Media
Swearing can be strongly noticeable in mass media, including TVs, newspapers, magazines, movies and throughout the internet.
Dynel (2012) discusses a number of methodological issues related to studies on the (im)politeness of swearing with special focus on internet discourse and the written commentaries on YouTube. In his research, he proposes that dirty words are not inherently impolite across all contexts and communities of practice. Several parameters affect language users\’ idiosyncratic perceptions of dirty words even in spoken communications or computer-mediated discourse. Dynel presents some restrictions that govern the using of swear words in the media. For example, polish rules prevent the use of vulgar language in TV discourse, while in the UK all swearing words are allowed. However, in the USA, there is a ban on “seven dirty words” with the exception of film dialogues ( Sapolsky& Kaye 2005).
Shaffer (2001:11) reports that the Parents Television Council in August 2001, “looked at “family hour” programs during the just- completed TV season and found the use of swear words had increased by 78 percent since their previous survey two years ago. It seems as if society is entering a phase of increased swearing.”
With respect to Arabic culture, there is a great number of swearwords in the sphere of Arabic media such as cinemas, TVs, conferences and through delivered speeches. They vary between swearing by the name of God, honor, parts of body and animals\’ names (e.g. horses\’ name) especially in Bedouin movies.
In the field of comparative studies, Goddard (2015) illustrates the differences between swear/ curse words in Australian and American English at the crossroads of pragmatics, semantics and sociolinguistics. The study sheds light on some differences between the speech cultures of Australian and American English. In addition, it explains how the use of swear/curse words can be affected by perceptions of formality, solidarity and mutuality. Further, Goddard in his study, attains two points:
First, American speakers are more sensitive in the use of religious swear/curse words such as Jesus! and Christ! more than Australian speakers.
Second, there are reasons to believe that patterns of social use of swearing/ curse words may differ between Australia and USA, even if the primary cultures that related to the terms of formality, solidarity and mutuality are the same in the two countries.
Jay ( 2000), Jay and Janschewitz (2008) study swearing depending on a neuro-psycho-social (NPS) theory that looks at the neurological, psychological, and social reasons. The theory shows that people are used to swear depending on certain factors. These factors can be classified under one of three main factors discussed in the theory.
Each of NPS factors takes time to develop the person\’s life and each factor depends on maturation and experience.
The first factor is neurological factor. It involves neurobiology which correlates to emotional language use. This factor states that swearing is involved with right cerebral hemisphere and neural substrata underlying a range of speech from non-propositional speech to prepositional speech (Jay and Janschewitz 2008:270-271).
Jay\’s research (2000) reveals that Neurological control is represented by a continuum of functions ranging from very little neurological control to high neurological control. Very little control is used in reflex actions. High neuro-control is used in situations in which we can decide what to say.
Jay and Janschewitz (2008:270-271) demonstrate that “Neurological factors influence propositional and nonpropositional swearing, but nonpropositional utterances make it particularly clear that we are not always able to control swearing; emotions arise involuntarily”. Swearing is existing on continuum from thoughtful or purposeful (e.g. persons\’ choose a particular swear word) to automatic and uncontrollable. For example, when a person accidentally hurts himself, there will be very little neuro-control or conscious awareness in what the person does. In this situation, the person may yell out a profanity. On the other hand, if the person is in a social setting talking to friends, he or she has high control and conscious awareness of his or her decision of what to say and whether to swear.
Swearing that is intentional or propositional may be produced with a lot of conscious awareness on the part of the speaker. If a person tells a dirty joke to a friend and uses a swear word in the punch line, he is using the swear word to communicate something funny to the audience. So, swearing can occur at different levels of awareness.
The second factor is psychological factor. According to Jay (2000:83-84) this factor specifies that whether or not people swearing depends to a great degree on one\’s experiences during development. The psychological factors strongly associated with swearing are: trait, religiosity, verbal aggressiveness, sexual anxiety and type of personality.
Jay (2000:87) divides these motives into strong and weak categories. Weak motives tend to inhibit people from swearing. These can be strong religiosity, high level of sex anxiety, high self-control, history of being punished for cursing, and lack of role models for cursing. For example, if a person has a strong Islamic background, the person may be motivated not to swear because it is considered not very Islamic-like to do that. Strong motives which are related to emotional states help to increase the likelihood of swearing. When people are experiencing an emotional state, they may use a swear word to express what they feel. For example, when people are angry they may go on a swearing tirade to express their anger.
The final factor is sociocultural factor. Jay and Janschewitz (2008: 272) admit that ” Sociocultural influences on swearing vary from culture to culture and take some time and experience within a culture to be fully appreciated”. The contextual variables (conversational topic, the speaker- listener relationship) determine the appropriateness and offensiveness of swearing. In why we curse, Jay (2000:19) explains that the speaker’s judgments about when to use swear words depend on his/her beliefs in the appropriateness of swearing language. The words can be in one context but not appropriate in another context with the same group of people. One can tell a dirty joke to his colleagues in a social setting but it would not be appropriate in a meeting at work.
2.7. Swearing and Venting Emotions
People swear to express their emotions such as anger, fear, elation, pain and happiness. Montagu ( 1967:71-72) states that “under such conditions one may learn to swear as a relief for angry feelings of an aggressiveness quality as means of relief to the over wrought individual by affording adequate release”. Echols (1980) ensures that” the oath interjectional provides an oral outlet, a safety valve, for man\’s anger frustration, a reasonably acceptable substitute for an obviously impractical action”.
Jay and Janschewitz (2008:269-270) state that Swearing can be either propositional or non-propositional. Propositional swearing is planned controllable and intentional. In this case, the speakers can control their utterances and emotions whereas; non-propositional swearing is unintentional and uncontrollable. It involves sudden responses to events emotively.
Fine and Johnson (1984) conducted a study on swearing. Their results show that emphasizing feelings is an important motive for swearing. Moreover, people know that other people swear in part to emphasize feelings. In the field of persuasion, Fine and Johnson’s results suggest that if an audience hears a speaker swear when delivering a speech on a particular topic then the audience might guess that the speaker is emphasizing feelings. Accepting such a point might motivate the audience to take particular note of the argument and quite possibly to find the communication to be particularly influential.
Mulac (1976) has carried out a study about the effects of obscene language, sex differences and credibility. The participants listened to two types of speeches. One of the speeches contains obscene words and the other contains non-obscene word. The participants analyze the two speeches depending on socio-intellectual status (rich – poor or educated- uneducated), aesthetic quality (beautiful-ugly or pleasing-displeasing) and dynamism (weak-strong) dimensions. The results show that a speaker can demonstrate strong depth of feeling about a topic by using bad or foul language, but the bad language detracts from other aspects of how the speaker is perceived. Scherer and Sagarin (2006) found that profanity led people to perceive the speaker as having more depth of feeling. Actually, speaker depth of feeling partially mediated the relationship between profanity and persuasion.
Methods and Procedures
This chapter deals with the research population and sample of the study. Data collection and data analysis are also included. In addition, it clarifies the validity and reliability of the research instrument.
3.2. Population of the Study
The population of the current study consists of native speakers of Jordanian Arabic who live in Irbid governorate. The population of the study includes males and females who speak different dialects.
3.3. Sample of the Study
The sample of the study consists of (200) participants. The participants are from different places in Irbid district. The sample consists of 103 males and 97 females. The sample consists of people who have different educational backgrounds. Participants are from two schools in North Ghore, Yarmouk University and some of them are friends, relatives and acquaintances of the researcher.
The following tables show the distribution of the sample according to age, gender level of education.
Table 1: Distribution of the Sample according to Age
Age range Frequency Percentage
30 or less 104 52.0
Above 30 96 48.0
Total 200 100.0
Table 2: Distribution of the Sample according to Gender
Gender Frequency Percentage
Male 103 51.5
Female 97 48.5
Total 200 100.0
Table 3: Distribution of the Sample according to Level of Education
Level of education Frequency Percentage
university 134 67.0
Secondary or less 66 33.0
Total 200 100.0
3.4. Instrument of the Study
The data of the study include swearing words used by speakers of Jordanian Arabic. To fish the required data, the researcher has adopted a personal observation method, an interviewing method and a questionnaire, written in Arabic, to collect appropriate and relevant data. Prior to the construction of the questionnaire, the researcher has interviewed some Jordanians of different age, gender, and educational level to discuss the swearing patterns that they usually and frequently tend to use. The responses of the participants and what the researcher himself observes serve as a basis for constructing the questionnaire.
The questionnaire of the current study consists of four pages, and it is based upon Anina\’s (2000) and Katherine\’s (2004) questionnaires. The researcher has carried out some modifications on the two questionnaires to be fit and appropriate for Arabic culture. The questionnaire is divided into three sections. The first section consists of three independent variables which were used for gathering demographic information, i.e., gender, age and level of education. The second section consists of six questions to measure the most frequent swearing patterns used by Jordanians. In this section, the participants were asked to circle the suitable choice among five scales.
The final section of the questionnaire was designed to survey Jordanian\’s attitudes toward swearing.
3.6. Validity of the Instrument
To achieve the validity of the instrument, the researcher has asked a jury of three university professors who are linguists and sociolinguists to provide their comments. The researcher has taken their observations and comments into consideration. For example, one of the professors suggested to divide the scale into five instead of four. The other professor suggested that the researcher should focus on gender and its role. Furthermore, the third member of the jury suggested a change the age division of the participants. Finally, all the modifications suggested by the jury have been carried out.
3.7. Reliability of the Instrument
Twenty participants were randomly selected for a pilot study. The questions of the questionnaire were easily answered within fifteen minutes without any obstacles. This assured its reliability.
3.8. Data Collection
To harvest the required data, the researcher asked the respondents to fill out the questionnaire independently and individually to avoid any influence from other respondents.
3.9. Data Analysis
After the data collection, the data were processed and statistically computed and analyzed by using SPSS system. The final results were placed into tables with frequencies and percentages.