Friday, April 25, 2008

ENA6 - Investigating Attitudes to Offensive Language

OK, so no takers for the last one on Language Change, so how about this one?

How would you go about investigating people's attitudes to offensive language?

I'm after a 5 point answer using this structure:

  • AIM/ANGLE
  • METHOD of DATA COLLECTION
  • FRAMEWORK for ANALYSING YOUR DATA
  • CONSIDERATION of EXTRA LINGUISTIC VARIABLES/ VALIDITY/ ETHICS
  • WHAT YOU EXPECT to FIND
...and it's completely up to you what you define as "offensive language"; in fact, that's part of what might make your answer a good one. The usual bag of Haribo goes to the best answer.

37 comments:

Dessy said...

what happened to te search bar???!!!????

Dan said...

it should still be there - try going back to the blog homepage and looking again

Dan said...

Come on... you can only win the Haribo if you take part. And it might help your A level.

Dan said...

Come on...3 bags of Haribo for best 3 answers. Lovely Haribooooooooo?

Dessy said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Dessy said...

feel free to comment critically on my work Sir. for one i know that the answer is too long to write in five minutes under exam conditions. i got carried away...

Dan said...

Aim: to investigate what different attitudes different social classes have towards the word "c*nt".

Method: i'll select 5 different public schools and 5 State Schools from across the country. within these schools, i'll randomnly selct 50 boys and 50 girls and hand them questionnaires to fill in, containing a range of open and closed questions.

Frameworks would be qualitative , i would be coming to a conclusion based on the opinions of these students concernig these words.

Validity i think it would be fairly valid, considering the fact that i would be controlling not only social class, but gender as well. as i'm aware that males and females may have different opinions towards certain words. However, this research is being done based on the assumption that Public Schools and State Schools contain students from different social classes. Also, because age is restricted, i may find that my conclusions are limited to the age group in 6th forms, i.e. 16 -19 yr olds

Ethics: some people consider "c*nt" to be very offensive, and so i would perhaps issue a disclaimer at the start informing people of this, and giving participants the oppirtunity to pull out if they so pleased. Also i would make sure particcipants were anonymous on answering the questionnaire, so that somewhat eliminates the problem of observer's paradox, and demand characteristics, where they say what they believe i want them to say.

i expect to find that upper and middle classes may be more disapproving of the word perhaps because of the attitudes of their parents.

Dan said...

Ironically, I've deleted your comment and bleeped the rude word, as the college filter will prevent users from seeing the answer (a nice investigation into censorship and network filters could be done here!).

As an answer it's pretty good...4/5 i reckon. The only thing it really needs, i think, is a clearer sense of how you will record the respondents' attitudes. Would it be straightforward questions like "do you find this word offensive?" or would you offer them the word in slightly different contexts being used by different people in different ways? eg women, young people, the c-word used as a term of abuse ("you c*nt") or as a term for female genitalia.

Basically, it's a good answer with a clear methodology, so maybe i'm just being picky.

ufuoma itoje said...

AIM: To find out how often people use swearwords in a day and the different attitudes towards other people who use swear words such as fuck, shit, cunt, twat etc.

Method: Use the BNC to analyse existing transcripts in reference to offensive language used by individuals daily.

Framework: Quantitative data on what age, class and gender uses more and what they think about it when they hear others use it. Qualitative data so I can look at the context and how it’s being used.

Consideration of extra linguistic variables/validity/ethics: Range of different ages, class and ethnicity. Equal number of boys and girls 20/20, taken from different places e.g. 5 girls from school. Confidentiality and consensus to use the data found. The validity of taking secondary data from the BNC transcripts is that I might not find the range of people that I’m looking for e.g. people of different class, age and ethnicity all in one transcript for the research that I want to find.

What I expect to find: I expect to find that males use offensive words more and that they exaggerate how much they use so that it’s dated down as more than they actually use. Females use offensive words but decrease the amount saying that they use it less when they use it more (especially older, middle class women). I also may find that people of different class and gender have different opinions on what they would class as offensive language.

Dan said...

There's plenty of good stuff in there - probably too much in fact.

Be clear that you are investigating *attitudes* rather than usage, so it's important to collect data that reflects people's views. So, keep the questionnaires and investigation into what people think of swear words, but get rid of the BNC and usage of swear words stuff, i think.

Dessy said...

sorry what's the BNC?

Dan said...

British National Corpus http://www.natcorp.ox.ac.uk/

"The British National Corpus (BNC) is a 100 million word collection of samples of written and spoken language from a wide range of sources, designed to represent a wide cross-section of British English from the later part of the 20th century, both spoken and written."

Dessy said...

by the way sir, the search bar is still not there!!!

Dan said...

It is there on the main page, or the original post's page, but you have to scroll to the top to see it.

Lisa Ogunmayin said...

Aim - To look at people's attitudes towards the use of the word bastard.

Method - I would use an opportunistic sample to get a sample of 10 senior citizens 70yrs+ (prob old people's home), 10 adults 30 - 40 yrs (parents) and 10 youths (16 - 20) (prob youth club)
I would use a semi-structured interview and use a dictophone to record answers I would operationalise 'offensive' as being words that people would feel insulted by.

Framework - Qualitative. Conclusions would be based on my interpretation of participants' responses.

ELV - Ethics - I would have to take into account the particiapnts might be offended by the use of this word and may not want to answer some questions so I would make sure that they are informed of their right to withdraw themselves and any information they provide.
Validity - Using an opportunistic sample might limit the range of participants for example white middle class mothers may be the only people available to take part, making the study unrepresentative. However there is also a chance that participants from different backgrounds and genders are available so it might depend on the area I choose to take my sample.
Social desirablity effects - Because of the fact that the word 'bastard' is seen as offensive, participants might feel the need to change their opinion even though they might not find it offensive.

Expectations - I would expect to find that the older participants find it more offensive because 'bastard' is used for children born outside wedlock and births outside wedlock used to be frown upon. So to be called a bastard many years ago would have ben very insulting. But now births outside wedlock are seen as a social norm especially with the falling rate of marriage. I would expect people to find it to be offensive if it was used to intentionally insult someone but its general use would not have the same shock value as it would have maybe 70 years ago.

Lisa - HT15

Dessy said...

Two things, what is an opportunistic sample
and "social desirability" is that the same as demand characteristics?

Dan said...

I like it, Lisa. I reckon that's the best one so far and I'd give it 5/5 and a bag of Haribo.

That's 3 answers so far.... but if there are any more 5/5 responses before Friday lunchtime, they could secure the mystic Haribo prizes too.

It's so exciting...

Dessy said...

sir you haven't answered my question!

Dan said...

Give us a chance to talk to my family!

Try a quick google / wikipedia on those terms or ask Lisa to explain them.

Lisa said...

an opportunistic sample is when you select a sample based on those who are available. For example if you did an investigation at lunchtime you would use people who are available and want to take part during that time (can be anyone)

social desirability effects is a demand characteristic. People answer questions or behave in a certain way to be seen in a favourable light.

Dessy said...

thanks

Dessy said...

sir you wanted me to read yesterday's editorial, was there a particular one, or should i read all of them?

sabrina said...

Aim: In order to investigate peoples attitudes towards offensive words i would investigate the taboo words fuck and nigger

Method: I would collate my data by conducting interviews with open questions such as "what are your attitudes to words such as fuck and nigger". I would have 2 sample sized groups with different age variations to increase the representativeness and thus the validity of my study. For eg. I would have one group between the ages of 15- 25 and another group between the age of 25-35.

Framework: I will use qualitative data. My conclusions will be drawn from this.

ELV: i am aware of ethical issues therefore i shall inform my participants about why i require to use them and i will also omit there names. As i am aware of observers paradox and demand characteristics i will use open questions rather than closed questions, as this will increase the validity of my study as it will reflect the views of my participants rather than my own due to the influence of demand characteristics.

Conclusions: Despite the process of semantic reclamation i expect to find that the word nigger is still found to be offensive for many. I also expect to find that it is used as a marker of cultural identity and is therefore more influenced by culture and ethnicity than age.
For the word fuck i expect to find that the first sample sized group use it more perhaps due to declining norms and standards which exist within the younger generation stereotypically speaking. In comparison i expect to find that my second sample sized group find it more offensive.

Dan said...

Not sure about the last paragraph ("declining norms and standards...") but everything else is really good. 5/5 and Haribo, I reckon.

Dan said...

This is the one I was thinking of: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/apr/30/usa.usforeignpolicy

It's shorter than you'd have to write in the exam, but it's got a kind of language focus and it's the style that's worth thinking about.

Dan said...

Sorry, try "Rebranding and outsourcing" as a search on The Guardian website instead, as that last link has been cut.

Dessy said...

thanks sir! i've read it, but i don't see any distinctive features apart from the ones you've told us, there is no first person or direct address, it just sounds like a normal newspaper article only, with the negative side of the story emphasised more than the other. oh and the excessive use of proper nouns to name and shame specific people and palces. now i feel like i'm doing a question 2a analysis. may be i'll read it again and some others.

Dessy said...

also are the editorials the ones that have "leader" written on them?

sabrina said...

sir u see for a radio script how long would it have to be roughly?

Dessy said...

roughly how long should an editorial be???

Dan said...

You've only got about 50 minutes, so if you aim for about 700-800 words for the 2a task - editorial, article, script etc. - that's probably about right (i.e. about 3 sides of exam paper).

Obviously, quality is better than quantity though, so that's only a rough guide.

Dessy said...

thank you! see if we want to write about a particular linguist's ideas, e.g Jean Aitchison said about the crumbling castle view, do we have to identify what they said exactly, i.e. "Jean think this is called a crumbling castle view" or can we just talk about the view, i.e "some would think our language is decaying like a crumbling castle" or do we have to specifically mention which linguist said what?

Dan said...

It's probably better to mention the name if you can remember, but it's not mega-important!

Dessy said...

i mean i know the linguists' name, but for style sake, (say i'm writing an editorial) it just would be better to leave it out. for exampke, Language change is happening, and while most have come to terms with it, others are still trying to prevent its evolvement, treating the English language as a beautiful old building that is crumbling before our very eyes".

in that sentence i could hardly include Jean's name could i, it'd sound really wrong.

Dan said...

Yep, fair point!

Not sure about "evolvement"! What's wrong with "evolution"?

Dessy said...

language change sir, don't be a prescriptivist! you should allow me to express myself without placing restrictions on my use of of our ever evolving language.

Dan said...

Yeah, right...