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Gender Affecting The Choice Of Taboo Words English Language Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Language
Wordcount: 1399 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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This paper is aimed to discuss further on the gender that affecting the choice of taboo words. I will focus on the sexual related word – FUCK. Through this study, it is able to explain in sociolinguistics view. why there is less frequency of female apply the word FUCK in daily life. In addition, the observation through the usage of this word by Hong Kong native-born, it is a goal to reflect how society conceptions or interpretations on two sexes.

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In Hong Kong, the popular of using foul words is enhancing within ten years. Affected by Western culture, the English foul words like FUCK is gradually existed in Hong Kong. Yet, from writer’s experience, the use of FUCK word in daily life is male more than female. Thus, through the research we can see how the society values influence the communication process. The target people being observed is the Hong Kong native-born, whose values are the most representing the local interpretations on genders.

Taboo language existed a very long time and there are some studies focused on the taboo field. K. Allen (2006) pointed out that there is no an absolute taboo word, the taboo refers to a behavior of a community in the particular situations and contexts. However, when the taboo words related to gender, like the sexual behaviors, tabooed bodily, sexual activities are become taboo language. Viewing on the sociolinguistic approach, this approach stated that there are relationship between use of linguistic in systematic way and social value.


Viewing the 20s of Hong Kong native-born, how the gender affecting the frequency of the word FUCK using in daily life. The possible respondents are the young adults in both genders within the age 20 to 29 distributed by educational level.


From writer’s experience, young adults are commonly used this language then the elderly. In Hong Kong this modern city, the view of native-born citizen towards sex is still conservative. Thus, native-born people still carry a negative perception on the word FUCK. From the traditional view, patriarchy empowered the status of men and the view of sex and women speak behavior are followed the men’s impression. This implied that women using the taboo language are an impolite and unsuited behavior of a lady. Until now, it is thought that Hong Kong native-born women are still influence by this custom.

Bibliography review

From the research of B. Murphy (2010) on examining taboo language across the age group, it is obvious to see the word FUCK is the most common sexual taboo word. The high frequency of this word is because FUCK is a transitive verb and carries multiple functions, including expressing emotional meaning, referential function and intensifier. (R. Wajnryb, 2004). Some theorists like Julian Burnside illustrated that our society judged this human action and sex is the illegal part of human existence thus FUCK is the impolite use of word. In my research, sexual words are taboo in Chinese traditional ideas. Thus, FUCK as a popular word in foul language. It is an important keyword to raise the way on society views on both genders.

According the similar study by B. Murphy (2010) on the use of FUCK among different age groups, the young women aged 20s are concluded as the group freely to come across the ethical overtone and frequently apply profane phrases in daily life. Thus, I targeted my research to the young adults between 20s.

Many previous studies showed that the communication way between men and women are different. Such as A.Peer (2005) mentioned, the stereotyped beliefs on the ‘speech style’ of genders are based on the social status of men and women in society. Goddard and Patterson (2000) invented the word ‘folklinguistics’ to define the talking behaviors of men and women. The women usually less swear than men. Some popular phrases like ‘lady doesn’t swear’ and ‘man never cry’ reflected the expectation of the men and women act in various ways. I believe the society shared viewpoint is one the largest factors affecting the communication behavior towards genders. I think these theories also applied to Hong Kong.


This paper is a qualitative research. Thus, the data collected for looking the patterns and the comparing to the theories. It is chose to use participant-observation as a tool to enter the group and have an informal interview to the target age group. I would be standing as the outside observer and play the active role to raise questions in the targeted group.

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Sources of data collection

The data mainly gathered from three ways, organizing the collective discussions in face to face with target groups and the informal interviews. While face to face discussions can be viewed as gathering the spoken discourse, interviews ensure the quality of data got is valuable. Data from discussion is used to analyze the characteristics of both sexes in communication behaviors. Through the word FUCK, these interact behaviors can be reflected as the hidden attitudes on genders. On the other hand, the informal interview is a qualitative way to view the perceptions of these communication behaviors.

Strength and weakness of data collection methods

Collective Discussions (Focus group) facilitate researcher to gather various views on a topic because the sexual related word is a comparatively sensitive in Hong Kong. The dual moderator focus group is the effective way to observe the reactions of target participants. The designed questions stimulate the talk and interactions under defined topic in the groups. The speeches and experiences from participants can encourage the others to response and voice out their feelings on genders. This is a more objective view to observe the sentence structure and patterns difference within gender comparing to interviews.

However, the ideas picked are only from the focus group. The data may not represent the views of all the people in age 20s. Moreover, the discussion involves more than ten people and the comments from participants would be persuasive and affect the others’ thought. Then, react of group members may not behave in a natural way and the data collected may not be accurate. Hence, organize few focus groups with different participants among twenties is the way to higher the accuracy of data collected.

Informal interview (Semi-structured interview) is another way to collect the useful data and replenish the weakness from focus group. Interviewees are more willing to share their personal experience. The interviewer can adjust the questions in a flexible way according to the responses. The questions about genders and sex can be even more specific and sensitive. Although informal interview may involve the subjective view both in the questions and responses, it is a way to understand how the social value affects the choice of word in taboo language. In addition, this method ensures the quality of the data collected that is related to the topic and valuable.

Instructions of data collection

All the compulsory questions drafted should be asked in both collective discussions and semi-structured interviews. The optional questions are free to ask after finishing compulsory questions. The focus group will be organized in twelve people among the age of twenties and they should be all native-born in Hong Kong. As the groups will be formed three times, the numbers of participants will be altogether thirty-six people. The group should include all ages of twenties, at least one person in each target age. Every time the numbers of men and women are the same.

The informal interview will be organized in face to face and on phone. The total numbers of interviewees are sixty. The interviewer should try to avoid using imperative questions for example; don’t you think women swear less than men? The opened-ended questions are encouraged to ask if the interviewees are willing to answer.

List of probable sources of evidence to be investigated

List of questions asked of respondents


Data analysis methods

Case study analysis plan

Expected outcomes and discussion


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