3.3.1 Name-calling

Name calling is 'the act of using rude or insulting words about sb' (OED 2000:854). Although there are insults without swearwords, i.e. rude or offensive words, most insults include these. Swearwords can be divided into different categories:

  • religious terms (e.g. God damn it, holy shit, Jesus Christ)

  • Terms related to excrements or organs producing them (e.g.) shit, crap, arsehole)

Click here to watch a Shakespearean scene with such a swearword:
This scene is taken from Shakespeare's Much ado about nothing Act IV Scene 2. The person to whom the insult is addressed is called Dogberry, a constable in charge of the Watch, the insulting one is Conrade, follower of the intriguer Don John. To get to know the context, see:

  • Terms related to sex and genitals (bawdy words)

  • Terms related to being unmanly and with unmanly behaviour (e.g. related to homosexuality or cowardice) (eHistLing Vol.1,55)

Click here to watch a film scene from Shakespeare's Much ado about nothing Act I Scene 1. Lady Beatrice is insulting the absent Sir Benedick by calling into question his abilities as soldier.