Abuse and authority in the Chester cycle: A socially-based discourse

Abuse and authority in the Chester Cycle: A socially-based discourse

By Begoña Crespo García

Journal of English Studies, Vol.4 (2003/4)

Abstract: The aim of this paper is to describe the relationship between the derogatory function of language -as the maximum lexical expression of the language of abuse and authority – and the social values of the late Middle Ages. To this end, the Chester Cycle, a speech-based body of work, has been analysed. Given that, as many authors state, the lexicon or vocabulary is the subsystem that best transmits the connection between language and society, I have selected lexical items and phrases representing oaths, insults and expletives for the purpose of my analysis. The semantic study of the items and sequences collected reveals that the social, religious, political, economic and cultural trends of the period are manifested through the use of abusive forms of address and other linguistic expressions of self-assertion.

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