Slang lexemes and swearwords are commonly discussed in conjunction with each other as though they were slightly different versions of the same phenomenon. However, these lexical categories have distinctly different core functions and correspondingly different defining qualities. Confusion about their differences comes from the fact that each is associated with the obligatory expression of affect that is incompatible with the formality and deference characteristic of honorifics or, indeed, of much standard discourse. Slang lexemes and swearwords also overlap in that basic slang lexemes, such as cool and swell, share with swearwords connections to underlying cultural value systems that render them (like swearwords) both widely recognizable and enduring.

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