Study to investigate swearing and bilingualism in South Africa
A study by the University of Vienna, in collaboration with researchers from South Africa and the United Kingdom, is investigating the different emotional responses bilingual people have towards swear words in their different languages. The study will focus on English-Afrikaans bilingualism, examining the perceptions of swear words and swearing behaviors of English-Afrikaans bilinguals in South Africa. The study aims to measure complex bilingualism and understand why some words may be considered acceptable in one language but not in another. The research is linked to a broader project on Afrikaans swearing, examining the linguistic roots and development of swear words, and swearing in popular media.
Bilingual people often have different emotional responses to words in their different languages - the same goes for rude language. What is an offensive swear word in one language may have a direct translation in another language that is completely acceptable to use in polite company.
Elouise Botes and Thomas Goetz from the Department of Developmental and Educational Psychology at the University of Vienna are investigating swearing and bilingualism in collaboration with researchers from South Africa and the United Kingdom. Gerhard van Huyssteen , a prominent Afrikaans and Dutch linguist from the North West University Potchefstroom and Jean-Marc Dewaele , renowned applied linguist from Birkbeck, University of London are involved in the project.
The study will focus on English-Afrikaans bilingualism, with Afrikaans being a West Germanic language developed from 17th century Dutch that is predominantly spoken in South Africa. The study links to a broader research project on Afrikaans swearing, which examines the legality of rude language, the linguistic roots and development of swear words, and swearing in popular media.
The study will investigate the perceptions of swear words and swearing behaviours of English-Afrikaans bilinguals. Participants across South Africa will be asked to react to rude language in Afrikaans and English and rate the level of offensiveness of words in a mixed-method study. Large scale data will be collected using social media in South Africa followed by in-depth interviews with English-Afrikaans bilinguals. Thus, the study will attempt to measure complex bilingualism and relate language background to swear words and answering the question why it might be okay to say "shit" in front of Granny, but "kak" definitely is not.
Those interested in participating can access the study at: www.soscisurvey.de