Research article
Issue: № 3 (7), 2016


The paper analyses the phenomenon of invective words or verbal abuse. They can be actualized in different ways and take various forms. Being one of fundamental property of human behavior, aggression has manifold expression in language. Speech aggression has a great number of functions in various spheres of human life. The fundamental of them amount to means of influence for addressee, wish to afflict and mean of ascendancy’s expression, personal superiority and language violence. Speech aggression can be ranged in level of intensity and forms of its appearance: from utterance of dislike and malevolence till verbal abuse.

Invective or verbal abuse can be realized in different ways and they can take different forms. Some forms of invective are characterized with definite degree of indecency, impropriety or injuriousness. 

Invective by itself makes the communicative situation more emotionally. The power of such emotional condition is directly proportional for importance of this situation for communication partners so that the effect of invective increases with the growth of its offensiveness for communicant. This offensiveness can be reached with different ways and one of the most wide-spread is to add the invective more obscene and indecent character.

In consideration of the foregoing we can give the following definition for this socio-communicative phenomenon, so verbal invective is a definite culturally-based and national specific vector-directed continuum of verbal aggression in relation to communication party, situation, object and process of social conversation.  Invective formula mean simulated event of cultural demands’ violation on the part of invectum (offendee) or overrunning  his\her  act for borders the outlined specific-national culture of behavioural regulation, irrespective of degree of reality and in general realness of accusation. Sometimes the verbalization of invective formula is realized with literary vocabulary but most of all they are realized with vulgar vocabulary and phraseology which characterized with stylistic markedness and having vulgar valence implementing the intention of speaking or writing person to abuse, blot, blemish, and asperse the addressee of his or her speech or express  his or her feeling toward the situation.

In modern linguistics there are two kinds of invective differ from each other with the objective of orientation (by invectum). This entails expletive and aggressive invective. These kinds of invective are two main groups within it is possible to detach separate simple forms.

Expletive invectives are the usage of profanisaurus for expressing of one’s own relation not toward person but describing situation, for example:


Черт возьми! Почему же она не звонит? Сколько можно ждать звонка?!  Будь ты проклят - сучий телефон! Во рту пересыхает, ноги ватные, жить не хочется ... Что же это за пытка! Она должна быть сейчас рядом со мной, иначе я сдохну.

(М. Козаков. Актерская книга) [2]


As part of expletive invective one can mark:

  1. general profanities which don’t have own addressee and then don’t have direction for immediate abuse of person. nevertheless usage in speech abusive dictionary  can beget indirect insult and hurt feeling of communicant;
  2. religious expletive vocabulary including blasphemy, when invector violates feelings of religious people meaningly, “ blaspheming (against) God” (for example «Тогда Левий закричал: –Проклинаю тебя, бог! Осипшим голосом он кричал о том, что убедился в несправедливости бога и верить ему более не намерен»), profanation when invector doesn’t “blaspheme  (against) God” but violates commandment about “taking the name of God (the Lord) in vain” decreasing “sublitity” of sacral notion;
  3. interjectional expletive vocabulary which can be expressed in any form, even in the form of direct abuse, but it has a distinctive mark, such as absence of direct invectum but serves as a rule for expressing of vexation or insult of speaking because of impossibility to change current situation. At that invective can take the form of auto invective, i.e. obtain “reverse orientation” being addressed to the most speaking. Groups of invective - intensifiers are separated as part of interjectional expletive. They are used to make the speech more colloquial expressivity.

This classification is a conditional distribution of invective vocabulary into groups. Correlation some verbal formula or other with definite group depends of concrete characteristics of communication and invector’s intention.

Continuum of verbal invective is traced with increment of decreasing level of lexical items in terms of their stratificational, functional-stylistic and ethical – stylistic marks and definitions in the vulgar tongue dictionaries. The scale of invective vocabulary can be shown in the following way: humorously-ironic → avuncular- mocking → negative-marked → acrimonious → disapproving → criticize → charitable- slighting → contemptuous →  blunt → rude → euphemistic →  dysphemic → abusive- scurrilous → offensive → pejorative- pejorative → vulgar- taboo [3].

Aggressive invective is a “cultural based and natural specified vector- oriented continuum of verbal aggression toward the participant of communication and realizing, as a rule, with vulgar vocabulary and phraseology which characterized with stylistic markness and vulgar connotation realizing speaker’s or writer’s intention to insult, blemish, dishonor addressee of his\her speech“.

Aggressive invective has the following function:

  1. the demonstration of idea of superiority of the man over the woman, obscenities of feminine;
  2. obscenity at large offends the most light and pure for one or another culture [5].

Aggressive invective existing in any language can be divided into two main groups, the first one is obscenity and the second one is damnation.

Obscenity is the most frequently diagnosable form of verbal aggression. Obscenity is defined as being form of verbal aggression performing via opponent’s accusation in irregularity of national-cultural behaviour, disdain of definite cultural value or “demonstration” hi physical or intellectual “inferiority” in comparison with invector or other member of society. Obscenity is also a vector-oriented articulation of terms for addressee, denoting bowel and bladder habits or body parts, fixed in this classification as obscene words.

Obscenities can be conveniently classified in a certain way:

  1. really obscenities;
  2. xenophobic nicknames and alias;
  3. zoo semantic metaphor.

In the context of their addressing obscenities are differentiated in:

  1. referred directly to subject;
  2. oriented to those relatives whose status is prioritized in corresponding culture;
  3. addressed to the uttermost sacralized mythological subject.

From the standpoint of linguistics the obscenities can be recognized as illegal act if verbal formula directing to addressee is under described above scale of invectiveness. These verbal formulas as a rule are characterized with high level of offensiveness (verbal invective with contemptuous, rude, dysphemism, dysphemic,  abusive- scurrilous,  offensive,  vulgar- taboo characterizations), except for verbal invectives with pejorative or damnatory meaning which can be  recognized as offensive ones due to the fact that negative evaluation of person or stricture are the manifestation of negative emotion generated by human behavior, at that this characteristics and stricture are not always justified, proved and appropriated.

In general terms abuse can be defined as any word or expression containing offensive characteristics of addressee and realizing through obvious and strong verbal aggression.

Damnation, according to Indo-European mythoephic tradition, in the modern sense takes up with ancient notion of magic hex. The ancient pagans had a tradition to sacrifice holy cow and deliver blessing. These actions meant blessing for votively, blessing for the Supreme Being, imaginative motion to the hub of the universe  under positive connotation (spell), either excision or motion from the hub of the universe under negative connotative meaningxs (damnation) [1].

Damnation provides the presence of definite verbal phrase addressed to one of the participant of communicative situation and comprehended as “formula of damnation” or “formula of alienation”, implemented as the process of “delivery” of damned person to sinister forces.

Consequently, according to modern understanding damnation purports the presence of definite verbal expression, addressed to one of the participant of communicative situation and comprehended as “formula of damnation”, realized as “formula of alienation” or delivery of “damned person” to sinister forces. in what connection we can see in such phrase the reference to possible conflict, caused it.

In Russian national culture “formula of damnation” has the large variation, communicants cannot use such formula as «Будь ты проклят(а)»,they use so called “formula of alienation”: «иди к черту», «да пошел ты...», «а не пойти б тебе». It is necessary to notice the variation of Russian national “formula of alienation”: except «будь ты проклят» another formulas of evil-wishes are used, coming laden with some social and age, localized and ethnic characteristics.


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