About SwiSca

The SwiSca symposia are scholarly events focusing on investigations of swearing and taboo language usage from a variety of academic perspectives.


The events are organized by members of the SwiSca network, an international group of researchers initially based in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, but which now boasts members from Finland and Iceland, as well as affiliates from Europe, the UK, and the US. Previous events have taken place at the Danish Language Council (2012), University of Oslo (2013), Uppsala University (2015), University of Southern Denmark (2016), Helsinki University (2017) and Södertörn University (2018).

This year, the symposium is organized by The Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies. The symposium will be held in person in Reykjavik. It will also be streamed live.

Please register here: rajo@hi.is

Due to Covid-19 prevention, number restrictions and physical distancing will be respected at the symposium. Face masks and hand sanitizers will be situated by the entrance.


Keynote speaker:

Professor Ármann Jakobsson


The trolls take thy boasting and bragging:

The Meaning of medieval cursing

In this paper, two invocations of trolls in Njáls saga will be explored in depth in order to establish what such curses mean, how they function and who uses them. Also discussed is the context of these curses: religious conversion, the place of superstition and the resilience of ancient paranormal figures within a newly Christianised society.

Ármann Jakobsson is a professor in medieval Icelandic literature at the University of Iceland.


Call for papers and registration

The 7th SwiSca symposium will be held in Reykjavik December 2-3 2021. There is no registration fee.

If you are interested in giving a paper (20 min. + 10 min. discussion) or attending the event, please contact the organizer (helga.hilmisdottir at arnastofnun.is).


Organizing committee

Helga Hilmisdóttir - The Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies

Kristy Beers Fägersten -  Södertörn University

Marianne Rathje - The Danish Language Council


Important dates

Deadline for abstracts: September 1 2021

Information of acceptance:  September 14 2021

Deadline for registration (attendance only): Nov 29 2021 



Safnaðarheimili Neskirkju

Við Hagatorg

107 Reykjavík

(20 min. from the city center, walking)


Thursday, December 2nd 2021

09.00 Coffee and registration
09.30 Welcome address Helga Hilmisdóttir, The Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies
09.45 Cursing vocabulary and its relation to the history of mentalities Ruth Vatvedt Fjeld
10.15 That‘s so meta: Netflix‘s "History of Swear Words“ in Finnish Minna Hjort, University of Turku
10.45 Some insults and cursing in 17th century Iceland Ellert Þór Jóhannsson 
11.15 Coffee break
11.30 Scraping online dictionaries for usage annotations Steven Coats, University of Oulu
12.00 Swearing in Danish reality series Ex on the beach Marianne Rathje, The Danish Language Council
12.30 Lunchbreak
13.30 From D‘oh! to Don‘t fuck it up. The evolution of swearing in television catchphrases Kristy Beers Fägersten, Södertörn University, Monika Bednarek, The University of Sidney
14.00 Keynote address: The trolls take thy boasting and bragging: The meaning of medieval cursing Ármann Jakobsson, University of Iceland
15.15 Coffee break
15.30 The structure of swearing in Icelandic Ásta Svavarsdóttir, The Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies 
16.00 Express yourself! What happens when concepts are cursed Stanley Donahoo, University of Arizona

Friday, December 3rd 2021 

09.00 Coffee
09.30 Effects of swearing on strength: Disinhibition as a potential mediator Richard Stephens, Katie Atkins, Amber Barrie, Harry Dowber, Sannida Almeida, Ciaran Murphy, Cat Maginnis, Keele University
10.00 ”The damn kids!”: Expressivity, animacy and social meaning Matthew Hunt, Queen Mary University, London
10.30 Coffee break
10.45 The lexeme ho(e) in African American rap: A corpus-based study Radosław Dylewski and Marta Małaczek, Faculty of English, Adam Mickiewicz, University of Poznań
11.15 Teasing out the social distinctions of the borrowing oh my god in Finnish Elizabeth Peterson, University of Helsinki
11.45 Lunch
13.00 Where does swearing get its power? Introducing and scoping a large-scale survey Karyn Stapleton, Ulster University, Kristy Beers Fägersten, Södertörn University, Richard Stephens, Keele University, Catherine Loveday, University of Westminister 
13.30 Closing remark
14.00 SwiSca network meeting
15.00 End of symposium    

Find a PDF version of the program here

Contact information

Helga Hilmisdóttir, research associate professor

Department of Lexical Studies and Lexicography

Laugavegi 13, IS-101 Reykjavík, Iceland

email: helga.hilmisdottir at arnastofnun.is

The Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies


Funded by

-Nordplus språk

-The Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies

-Letterstedska föreningen