The Impact of Language Attitude on the use of Swear Words: A Sociolinguistic Study of Pashtu Non-native Speakers of English
Swear words make an important aspect of any language despite their taboo nature. Taking this feature of language into account, this paper investigates how the language attitude of Pashtu non-native speakers of English towards Pashtu and English languages might impact the use of swear words in these languages in different situations. Data from30 male undergraduate university students were collected through semi-structured interviews. The analysis revealed that Pashtu non-native speakers of English had a positive attitude towards English and Pashtu languages owing to instrumental and integrative motivation, respectively. Swearing in Pashtu and English was shown to be determined by the speakers’ perceptions of the degree of offensiveness of swear words in the languages, social status of the users of the language in the society, and the setting and context in which those words were used. It was concluded that the positive attitude of Pashtu non-native speakers towards English and Pashtu resulted in their swearing-in English and Pashtu for different reasons: swearing-in English was controlled by the high status of the language in the society, whereas swearing-in Pashtu was used as a marker of solidarity and covert prestige.