Skip to main content Accessibility help

Expletives of lower working-class women

  • Susan E. Hughes (a1)


For many decades, women's speech has been seen as being very different from that used by men. Stereotyped as swearing less, using less slang, and as aiming for more standard speech style, women were judged according to their sex rather than other aspects of their lives, such as class and economic situation. With many critics now challenging these ideas, this article sets out to look at the reality of the swearing used by a group of women from a deprived inner-city area. Their constant use of strong expletives flies in the face of the theories proffered of the “correctness” of the language of women. (Expletives, taboo words, working-class women, female speech, female group, social networks, sociolinguistics, inner-city England)



Hide All
Chaika, E. (1982). Language: The social mirror. Rowley, MA: Newbury House.
Coates, J. (1986). Women, men and language: A sociolingusitic account of sex differences in language. London: Longman.
Coates, J., & Cameron, D. (eds.). (1988). Women in their speech communities. London: Longman.
Conklin, N.F. (1973). Perspectives on the dialects of women. Paper presented at a meeting of the American Dialect Society.
Gomm, I. (1981). A study of the inferior image of the female use of the English language as compared to that of the male. Unpublished B.A. dissertation, Edge Hill College, Ormskirk.
Hudson, R.A. (1980). Sociolinguistics. London: Cambridge University Press.
Kramer, C. (1974). Women's speech: Separate but unequal? Quarterly Journal of Speech 60:1424.
Labov, W. et al. , (1968). A study of the non-standard English of Negro and Puerto Rican speakers in New York City. Cooperative Research Project 3288, vol. 1. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Office of Education.
Milroy, L. (1980). Language and social networks. Oxford: Blackwell.
Pahl, R. E. (1975). Whose city? Harmondsworth: Penguin.
Risch, B. (1987). Women's derogatory terms for men: That's right, “dirty” words. Language in Society 16:353–58.
Thorne, B., & Henley, N. (eds.). (1975). Language and sex: Difference and dominance. Rowley, MA: Newbury House.
Trudgill, P. (1972). Sex, covert prestige, and linguistic change in the urban British English of Norwich. Language in Society 1: 179–95.
Trudgill, P. (1983). Sociolinguistics: An introduction to language and society. London: Pelican.

Related content

Powered by UNSILO

Expletives of lower working-class women

  • Susan E. Hughes (a1)


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.