Lower Working-Class Women’s Expletives

Expletives of Lower Working-Class Women, published in 1992 in the journal Language in Society, is a rare sociolinguistic study of this inherently provocative topic. “This article,” wrote author Susan Hughes of the University of Salford, “sets out to look at the reality of the swearing used by a group of women from a deprived inner-city area.” Hughes surveyed six women in Ordsall, a part of Salford said to be characterised by “social malaise”.

“My observations of these women,” Hughes wrote, “showed me that, contrary to some theories, they use a strong vernacular style … These women are proud of their swearing…”

So begins this week’s Improbable Research column in The Guardian.