Use of swear words in Spanish increased after democracy

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THE use of swear words in Spain has increased significantly since the democracy was established, according to a study carried out by investigators at the Alcala de Henares University.

UAH lecturer Florentino Paredes, expert in dialectology, sociolinguistics and lexicology, explained that the globalisation of the use of swear words was motivated on the one hand, in an increase of swearing amongst women – swear words were traditionally associated with men’s language – as well as the spreading of the less formal use of ‘you,’ ‘tú’ in Spanish, which replaced ‘usted,’ (you sir/madam).

“Seems as though these words were spread in Spain after the democracy went into force due to the new possibility of talking openly about things which were publicly prohibited during Franco’s dictatorship and on the other hand, due to an increased equality between men and woman,” he said, and continued: “What we should avoid is not the occasional cuss word, but its repetition over time, which deteriorates the language of the person who uses it due to not being able to find other words which equips the speech with increased strength.”

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However, the use of swear words is not equally extended over the whole Spanish-speaking territory: its use is much less common in areas of Latin America.

Mr Paredes explained that most Spanish cuss words are related to topics that society regards as taboo, including those related to scatological or religious themes, physical or mental faults and, most of all, words regarding sexuality. In addition, most seem to satisfy phonetic requisites such as including an explosive consonant (p, t, k).

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