Swearing, a controversial linguistic phenomenon, has recently become more of a social norm in some segments of Egyptian mass media. Much of the blame for the growth of swearing as a linguistic phenomenon, meanwhile, has been directed at mass media itself. This study investigates swearing in the speech community of female college students affiliated with the upper class in Egyptian society. The study examined the commonly-held notion that women use weaker swear words than men. Also examined were the effect of gender constellations on swear words use, and the social and linguistic functions swear words accomplish in this speech community. 154 participants responded to the study online survey and 6 of the questionnaire respondents participated in the follow-up interviews. The study, in line with Stapleton (2003), Fägersten (2012), Zawrotna (2016), and Rosenberg et al. (2017), revealed that the female speech community analyzed in this study uses swear words less frequently than males of the same speech community, yet equally offensive. Swearing takes place in both same sex and mixed gender groups. 67.2 % of participants’ swearing behavior has not been inhabited by the presence of males. While some participants in accordance with Frank and Anshen (1983) showed no change in their swearing behavior or in accordance with Jay (1986) decreased their swearing, some participants in accordance with limbrick (1991) increased their swearing in males’ presence. The study population uses swear words to express anger as well as emphasis, intimacy, humor/joy, pain, social bonding and solidarity.


Applied Linguistics Department

Degree Name

MA in Teaching Arabic as a Foreign Language

Graduation Date


Submission Date

January 2018

First Advisor

Taha, Zeinab

Committee Member 1

Abu El Seoud, Dalal

Committee Member 2

Hassan, Mona


74 p.

Document Type

Master's Thesis


The author retains all rights with regard to copyright. The author certifies that written permission from the owner(s) of third-party copyrighted matter included in the thesis, dissertation, paper, or record of study has been obtained. The author further certifies that IRB approval has been obtained for this thesis, or that IRB approval is not necessary for this thesis. Insofar as this thesis, dissertation, paper, or record of study is an educational record as defined in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 USC 1232g), the author has granted consent to disclosure of it to anyone who requests a copy.

Institutional Review Board (IRB) Approval

Approval has been obtained for this item