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ISSN : 1226-4822(Print)
ISSN : (Online)
The Sociolinguistic Journal of Korea Vol.27 No.1 pp.25-65

Swear Words as Taboo Words and Political Correctness

Min Hyunsik


Swearing is a verbal abuse of a curse and a verbally and mentally homicidal act. These days, however, the concept of swearing prevails in various contexts, as with the saying "Any word that causes discrimination and hatred to the listeners is a curse." Words such as virgin, widow, and old man are not curses in a traditional perspective, but they can be interpreted as swear words that arouse an aversion depending on who listens to those expressions. Therefore, the movement of political correctness is foregrounded in pursuit of language purification, and the phenomenon of replacing old man with the elderly or silver is one example. These kinds of expressions appear in sociolinguistic areas that including race, sex, region, generation, occupation, and religion. These expressions could be political swear words and thus can be called political taboo words. These expressions are not traditional, objective, or typical swear words listed in the dictionary, but can be interpreted as subjective, psychological, and political swear words. Political taboo words should be purified to fair objective, nondiscriminatory, and non-aversive expressions; however, if purified languages are not coined, political taboo words can undergo the process of disuse.

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