A psycho–social analysis of common kimbeere swearwords in the language of traders at Kĩrĩtĩrĩ Miraa (Khat) market, Embu County.
Mukuni, Daniel Muturi
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This study focused on the domains and functions of common Kimbeere swearwords in the language of traders in a miraa (Khat) market. The study set to identify the common Kimbeere swearwords; describe the domains from which they are sourced; account for the influence of age, gender and education in their usage, and define their function in communication. Jay‟s Neuro-Psycho-Social Theory of speech (NPS) explained the psychological and social reasons of using swearwords in speech while Hymes‟ Ethnography of Communication approach (EOC) guided us in describing the speech community under investigation as well as the speech situations involved in the use of swearwords thus defining the link between swear language and culture. The present study is a descriptive survey of language use incorporating qualitative research aspects. Data was collected by observation of verbal behaviour, recording naturally occurring speech transactions, as well as by use of an interview schedule. Two research assistants, who were speakers of Kimbeere, were employed in sampling respondents and participants using the “friend of a friend” approach. The swearwords collected were analyzed in terms of commonality, described and categorized in terms of domains (e.g. body parts, religion) and explained with regard to their function in communication (i.e. psychological or social function). The present study found that the language of traders was characterized by frequent use of common Kimbeere swearwords drawn from various social, cultural, and linguistic domains. Further, the study found that the social variables of age, sex and level of education influenced the use of swearwords. The analysis of speech indicated that use of swearwords was an essential aspect of how traders expressed different emotions. At the same time, swearing was discovered to be largely socially motivated revealing it to be a linguistic device for establishing social norms of language use. The study concluded that use of swearwords in speech was a means through which traders were able to attain social goals of group identity as well as transactional goals of trading profitably in a market environment full of aggression and competitiveness.