3.4 Contemporary English: Sounding

Sounding is a quite new phenomenon. (Jucker 2000:97). It occurred in the twentieth century, and can be seen as some kind of ritual insult among (mainly) African-American adolescents. Its purpuse is “to better one’s opponent with caustic and humorous insults that are seen as patentey untrue” (Jucker 2000:97). Like Anglo-Saxon flyting, sounding is a verbal duel, “a dialogic event composed of separate speech acts performed by two adversaries”. (Jucker, Taaversain 2000:29) One fundamental rule holds for the delivery of insults in sounding : the insult must not represent an accurate statement of reality, thus, when this mockery is perceived to be too close to reality, they can become serious insults (Arnovich 1999:21).


Your mother's so old she got spider webs under her arms.


Your mother's so old she can stretch her head and lick out her ass.