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Van Huyssteen & Eiselen 2021a

Van Huyssteen, Gerhard B, and Roald Eiselen. 2021. “Oor feekse en helleveë [On shrews and harridans].” Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe 61 (4-1):1129-1155. doi: doi.10.17159/2224-7912/2021/v61n4-1a9.

English: choice model; constructicography; constructionalisation; corpus linguistics; etymology; “feeks”; frequency; “helleveeg”, lexicology; network; opinion poll; related samples sign test; synonym; taboo value; usage-based approach

Afrikaans: etimologie; feeks; frekwensie; gebruiksgebaseerd; helleveeg; keusemodel; korpuslinguistiek; konstruksionalisering; konstruktikografie; leksikologie; meningspeiling; netwerk; sinoniem; taboewaarde; tekentoets vir verbandhoudende steekproewe

English: On shrews and harridans Research on swearwords (used here as a hyperonym to include other phenomena and / or synonyms, including cursing, cussing, profanity and foul language) has been done internationally for many years in a variety of scientific disciplines. In contrast, very little to no research has been done on swearing in the South African context. In this article, two research questions on two specific Afrikaans swearwords, feeks and helleveeg, are answered, viz.: 1. What does the constructionalization network of the words feeks (shrew) and helleveeg (harridan) look like?; and 2. What are users’ opinions about feeks and helleveeg, with specific reference to self-reported frequencies, taboo values, prominence, and gender connotation of the referents? Since the Etimologiewoordeboek van Afrikaans (EWA) was published in 2008, a number of newer etymological sources (such as the Etymologiewoordenboek van het Nederlands) have been added to Afrikaans linguists’ arsenal of sources. With the help of this new information, as well as information from other sources, we are able to lay out clear constructionalisation paths for feeks and helleveeg. One of the interesting new insights is that these words have the same Proto-Indo-European stem, but that they came via different routes firstly to Dutch, and then to Afrikaans. We also make a number of suggestions for visual representations of constructionalisation networks. We argue that end-users still need to be consulted about the intelligibility of our proposed visual representations, for example whether information should be presented from present to past, or vice versa. We also argue that solutions (such as those from EtymologyExplorer) should be found that would allow such visual representations to be automatically scaled to larger data sets. Regarding the second question, we use data collected via short, online polls, as well as related sample sign tests, to compare the similarities and differences of people’s perceptions about feeks and helleveeg. We show that these two words differ statistically significantly with respect to the following aspects: • Self-reported frequency (production and perception): Feeks is said / written / heard / read more often than helleveeg; • Emotional valency: Feeks is more negatively charged than helleveeg; • Salience: Feeks is less salient than helleveeg; • Familiarity: Feeks is better known than helleveeg; and • Gender connotation: Feeks can only be used to refer to women, while helleveeg might also be used to refer to men. If we compare each of the two words in terms of self-reported production and perception on the one hand, and their taboo values for the self and for others on the other hand, then we conclude that respondents think that: • they themselves rarely use feeks, but they still encounter it more frequently (statistically significantly); • they use helleveeg very little, and also encounter it very little; and • both feeks and helleveeg are more offensive to other people than to themselves. The article concludes with a number of pertinent questions for ongoing and future research.


Afrikaans: Navorsing oor vloekwoorde (hier gebruik as ‘n hiperoniem om ander verskynsels en/of sinonieme in te sluit, waaronder swets, skel, (gods)laster en vuil taal) word al internasionaal vir baie jare in ‘n verskeidenheid wetenskaplike dissiplines gedoen. Daarteenoor is daar baie min tot geen navorsing oor vloek in die Suid-Afrikaanse konteks gedoen nie. In hierdie artikel word twee navorsingsvrae oor twee spesifieke vloekwoorde, feeks en helleveeg, beantwoord, te wete: 1. Hoe lyk die konstruksionaliseringsnetwerk van feeks en helleveeg? 2. Wat is gebruikers se opinie oor feeks en helleveeg, met spesifieke verwysing na selfgerapporteerde frekwensies (sowel produksie (sê/skryf), as persepsie (hoor/lees)); die taboewaarde (d.i. aanstootlikheid vir self en vir ander); persepsie oor die prominensie (d.i. emosiebelaaidheid, opvallendheid en bekendheid); en die geslagskonnotasie van die referent van dié twee woorde? Resente insigte in die etimologie van feeks en helleveeg word in detail bespreek, terwyl voorstelle vir visuele voorstellings van etimologiese inligting en konstruksionaliseringsnetwerke aan die hand gedoen word. Daar word ook uitvoerig gerapporteer oor ʼn persepsieondersoek wat met behulp van aanlyn vraelyste oor dié twee woorde gedoen is. Met behulp van ʼn tekentoets vir verbandhoudende steekproewe, word die verskillende dimensies van die twee woorde met mekaar vergelyk. Die artikel sluit af met ʼn vooruitskouing op toekomswerk.

In: Afrikaans

On: Afrikaans