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Euphemism in oral communication: conversational cursing, familiarity, views and attitudes

Author: 
Annie A. Parmis, Jade Barachiel D. Bantasan and Rose Marie S. Berdos
Subject Area: 
Social Sciences and Humanities
Abstract: 

This study was conducted to investigate the students’ euphemism in oral communication with regard to their conversational cursing, familiarity, views and attitudes. This study used the naturalistic approach using a research instrument first used by Jay (1992) and Vernon (2016). For this present study, the first set of respondents composed of 60 AB-English Language (AB-EL) students also answered another set of survey to elicit reasons why they curse and the dominant functions of cursing in their oral communication. Descriptive statistics was used to determine relationships among the variables and chi-square tests were run to investigate whether distributions of categorical variables differ from one another. Results showed that students curse moderately per day garnering a frequency of 41.67%. Most students use more Major curse words than their Weaker variants. To determine the reasons why students use curse words, this study used the NPS Theory of Cursing by Timothy Jay (2009). It consists of three interconnecting and interdependent areas: Neurological Control, Psychological Restraints, and Socio-cultural Restrictions. In the first area which is the neurological control, most students never considered Tourette syndrome and Novelty as reasons why they curse. Automacity (30%) gained an interesting positive response followed by Emotional Arousal (33.33%). Under Psychological Restraints, the students responded that Impulsivity (36.67%) is always the reason why they curse followed by Coping Skills (31.67%), then Moral Reasoning (15%) and Deviance (15%). Finally in the Socio-cultural Restrictions, findings revealed that students always curse because of Intimacy (40%) and Disgust (40%) followed by Privacy, Gender Role, and lastly, Formality. Results further showed that there is no significant relationship between students’ perception on the functions of cursing and their age, and that the students believe that firstly, cursing relieves pain and stress and secondly, cursing boosts confidence and makes communication comfortable. Ultimately, results showed that cursing is not a very serious matter to the students. Students just curse for some reasons other than making it a serious business for a more profound oral communication. The second set of respondents composed of 47 AB-English Language (AB-EL) students answered a self-report questionnaire on euphemism familiarity and views and attitudes toward euphemism. Results showed that students have distinct characteristics regarding the application of euphemistic terms, and that they have positive neutral views and attitudes toward euphemism regardless of their diverse familiarity of euphemistic terms. However, there is no statistically significant relationship between the students’ euphemism familiarity and their views and attitudes toward euphemism. Findings then revealed that euphemism could neutralize or lessen the harshness of curse words or offensive terms, thus lifting the strength of the offensive words to a lighter degree acceptable to any types of audiences and situations. To sum up, the outcomes of this research on euphemism and cursing offer a valuable means of establishing an understanding which explains the exploitation of euphemisms in the oral communication context.

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