Taboo vocatives in the language of London teenagers
This study focusses on the use and functions of so-called taboo vocatives (e.g. dickhead, you bastard, bitch) in the language of London teenagers, based on the analysis of over 500 examples extracted from COLT (The Bergen Corpus of London Teenage Language) and LEC (London English Corpus). Findings illustrate a wide variety of items in this category, and show that these cannot be regarded as mere insults, since they often serve to reinforce the bonds between young speakers as well, and indeed can even carry affectionate connotations. The majority of these items are nouns and denote some kind of sexual reference, an abnormal or strange human condition, or a pejorative, animal-related allusion. There does not seem to have been any major changes in the use of these forms from the 1990s to the first decades of the current century, although many of them have broadened their meaning and can now be used with either male or female speakers.
Keywords: vocatives, address terms, teenage language, taboo word, London English
Published online: 18 November 2020
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