Volume 12, Issue 1
  • ISSN 1878-9714
  • E-ISSN: 1878-9722
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Swearing has traditionally been associated with spoken language; however, swear words are appearing more often in print and, notably, explicitly featured in commercial products. In this paper, we consider this development an example of the commodification of swear words, or ‘swear words for sale’. Our analyses of English-language swear word products show that the taboo nature of swear words is exploited and capitalized upon for commercial gain. We argue that swear word commodities trade on sociolinguistically incongruous aspects of swear word usage, increasing salability of the swear word products by targeting specific demographics. Specifically, we analyze (1) women’s apparel and accessories, (2) domestic items and home décor, and (3) children’s products for adults or articles targeting parents of young children. The study concludes with a discussion of whether the popularization of swearing via such commodification may ultimately result in a loss of distinctiveness and devaluation.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): age; class; commodification; gender; swearing; taboo
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