”Hålt Munnen på dig din Galgeristare” Om användningen av tillmälen i dramer från tre sekler 1700–2000
This article presents the results of a study of invectives in 45 Swedish theatre plays from the period 1700–2000. The purpose of the study is to discuss who uses invectives, with respect to gender, class, and age, and what functions such expressions fill in the dialogues, as well as how the use of invectives has changed over time. Situations of conflict are interesting from a language-point of view, but they are not very easily documented in real life. Theatre plays are useful in this respect, since they make it possible to analyse how authors have imagined quarrels developing, word-by-word, as well as provide insights into how foul language has been used historically. From a close reading of passages that include invectives in the plays, it is concluded that men and people from the upper classes use such expressions the most, which is in part explained by the fact that these groups are overrepresented in the plays. As expected, the invectives found are most often used for criticism or abuse. However, an interesting conclusion to be drawn from the study is that such expressions are not only used in quarrels. Sometimes they form the base for group-inclusion, or even intimacy, between close friends or lovers. In fact, in some of the plays, words of abuse such as fjolla (’foolish woman’) are used in a loving and friendly way, often involving a sense of humour.