The effects of socio-biographical background, acculturation, and personality on Persian immigrants' swearing behaviour

Shakiba, Nooshin (2019) The effects of socio-biographical background, acculturation, and personality on Persian immigrants' swearing behaviour. Doctoral thesis, Birkbeck, University of London.

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Abstract

This thesis explores the effects of socio-biographical background, acculturation orientation, and personality on Persian (Farsi) immigrants’ swearing behaviour. Swearing is used to fulfill several functions, including signalling group membership (Beers Fägersten 2012; Dewaele, 2013; Stapleton, 2003, 2010). Immigrants navigate between their heritage and host culture social networks; as such, they use swearwords as affirmation of their membership, signifying their membership of both networks (Dewaele, 2013, 2016a). Several factors affect how close immigrants feel to members of the host culture in-group, such as frequency of the use of a language (Dewaele, 2004a, 2006; Ożańska-Ponikwia & Dewaele, 2012), self-rated knowledge (Dewaele & Stavans, 2014; Dewaele & Wei, 2012, 2013), and length of residency (De Leersnyder, Mesquita, & Kim, 2011; Dewaele, 2011a). Previous studies also examined potential links between personality profiles and use of swearwords. For instance, Dewaele’s (2012, 2017a) and Jay’s (2000) studies showed that extraverts use more swearing. However, to my knowledge, there has been no research yet on the possible link between immigrants’ language choice for swearing, socio-biographical, acculturation variables, and personality profile. The present dissertation research was set out to fill this gap and aims to provide a more unified (i.e., less fragmented) account of immigrants’ language choice for swearing and its relationship with several variables. A mixed method approach was adopted. The quantitative study investigated individual differences in acculturation and personality traits, and how these may be linked to sociobiographical and language variables, including language preference for swearing. Data were collected through an on-line questionnaire. A total of 204 Persian-English bi- and multilinguals residing outside Iran and 50 residing in Iran participated in this study. Qualitative data were collected via semi-structured interviews to give participants a voice and gain a better understanding of individuals’ experiences, strategies, language preference for swearing, and the possible effects of socio-biographical, acculturation variables, and personality traits. Interviews were conducted with 11 participants residing outside Iran. Results revealed a positive relation between higher mainstream acculturation scores and frequency of swearing in English. Female participants who scored higher in Social Initiative (Extraversion) used English swearwords more often. Male participants who scored lower in Emotional Stability (high Neuroticism) used Persian swearwords significantly more frequently. Results also showed a positive relation between frequency of the use, self-rated knowledge in Persian/ English, and Cultural Empathy and Open-mindedness. Moreover, sociolinguistic variables such as younger age, lower age of acquisition, higher self-rated knowledge in English, and longer length of residency were found to have positive effects on the frequency of swearing in English. Participants’ gender mattered as indicated by the finding that males and females showed different language choices at the time of anger with different interlocutors. The effect of both heritage and mainstream culture was evident in participants’ language choice at the time of anger for different interlocutors. Persian immigrants outside Iran differed from Farsi speakers in Iran in their choice and frequency of use of Persian/English swearwords. Also, ratings of the offensiveness of Persian/English swearwords varied between Persian immigrants residing outside Iran and Farsi speakers in Iran. These indicate that socio-pragmatic norms of immigrants gradually shift as a result of acculturating in a host culture and this will ultimately affect the perception and the use of L1/LX swearwords. Overall, qualitative findings were consistent with quantitative results and provided deeper insight into reasons underlying migrants’ language choices for swearing. The present results are consistent with past empirical findings and could be interpreted to provide support for several theoretical perspectives (i.e., bi-dimensional acculturation; multi-competence). Finally, these results have practical implications and provide suggestions for informing practices for teaching foreign languages.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Copyright Holders: The copyright of this thesis rests with the author, who asserts his/her right to be known as such according to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. No dealing with the thesis contrary to the copyright or moral rights of the author is permitted.
School/Department: School of Social Sciences, History & Philosophy > Applied Linguistics & Communication
Depositing User: ORBIT Editor
Date Deposited: 12 Aug 2019 14:44
Last Modified: 17 Feb 2020 13:38
URI: http://bbktheses.da.ulcc.ac.uk/id/eprint/430

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