Using expletive insertion to pursue and sanction in interaction

Elliott M. Hoey*, Paul Hömke, Emma Löfgren, Tayo Neumann, William L. Schuerman, Kobin H. Kendrick

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This article uses conversation analysis to examine constructions like who the fuck is that—sequence-initiating actions into which an expletive like the fuck has been inserted. We describe how this turn-constructional practice fits into and constitutes a recurrent sequence of escalating actions. In this sequence, it is used to pursue an adequate response after an inadequate one was given, and sanction the recipient for that inadequate response. Our analysis contributes to sociolinguistic studies of swearing by offering an account of swearing as a resource for social action.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-25
JournalJournal of Sociolinguistics
Issue number1
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • conversation analysis
  • escalation
  • response pursuit
  • swearing
  • upgrading


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