Published online by Cambridge University Press: 18 December 2008
In the past five years, there has been much interest in the question of whether women are really as concerned about politeness and status as they have been made out to be by such writers as Baroni and D'Urso (1984), Crosby and Nyquist (1977), Lakoff (1973), Spender (1980), and Trudgill (1972). Despite the commonly held perception that it is only males who bandy about derogatory and taboo words (Bailey 1985; Flexner 1975), Risch (1987) provided counterevidence based on data obtained in the United States. The results of the present study, based on data obtained in South Africa, strongly support her findings and challenge the assumption that women stick to standard speech, citing evidence that young females are familiar with, and use, a wide range of highly taboo/slang items themselves. In particular, attention is devoted to the question of pejorative words applicable to males and females, respectively, and the view that there are only a few pejorative terms commonly used to describe males (particularly by females) is challenged. (Women's language, politeness, linguistic taboo, stereotypes, slang, expletives, prestige forms).