FinnSwear: The social distributions of English-sourced and Finnish swear words in Finnish speakers’ multilingual practices

The project investigates the borrowing of English-sourced swear words into Finnish. By investigating such corpora as Suomi24, and examining language awareness and attitudes with some experimental methods, the project seeks to gain insights into the (potentially new) social order that is constructed with the borrowing of particularly English swear words into Finnish. The hypothesis for the project is that the current borrowing of English-sourced swear words into Finnish is altering the social dynamics and indexical system of heritage swear words, and that young generations of Finnish speakers (L2 speakers of English) are creating their own system of swear words in terms of social value, constructed with multilingual resources, mainly using Finnish and English. Our former studies on “pliis” (please) in Finnish (Peterson & Vaattovaara 2014; Hiltunen, Peterson & Vaattovaara in preparation) encourages to hypothesize that albeit naturally context dependent choices (as evidenced in naturalistic corpus data), such swearwords as “shittiä~shittii” and “oumaigaad” ‘Oh my God’ are likely to gain social meaning potentials that index urban (particularly feminine) identity.

The project aims to publish research articles in both Finnish and international research journals and to participate the Nordic SwiSca network activities.

The project is part of the Nordic network  Swearing in Scandinavia (SwiSca)


Johanna Vaattovaara (TAU), Professor

Elizabeth Peterson (HY), University lecturer, Docent



Vaattovaara, Johanna & Elizabeth Peterson (accepted): Hittoako damn tekee suomessa?  Itseraportointimenetelmään perustuva tutkimus englannin kielestä lainatun voimasanan käyttöön liittyvistä käsityksistä osana suomea. (Virittäjä 2023)

Peterson, Elizabeth, Ylva Biri & Johanna Vaattovaara (2022) Grammatical and socia structures of English sourced swearwords in Finnish discourse. – Solano, Ramón Martín & San Segundo, Pablo Ruano (Eds.), Anglicisms and Corpus Linguistics: Corpus-Aided Research into the Influence of English on European Languages s. 49–70. Peter Lang Publishing.

Vaattovaara, Johanna & Elizabeth Peterson (2019).  Same old paska or new shit? On the stylistic boundaries and social meaning potentials of a loanword in Finnish.Ampersand 6/2019 (Special Issue, E. Zenner, A. Calude & L. Rosseel (Eds.), Lexical borrowing as expression of culture, identity and attitude – empirical investigations into the social meaning potential of loanwords.