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Taboo Words

PBI-3/Semester 6
Kaaf Iklilah
Raisa Ainaa
What is
Taboo words are the word that is prohibited to be said.
People who listen to the words might feel shock or
uncomfortable. Which means that taboo words, aka (as
known as) don’t say the words!!!

The History
of Taboo
The term "taboo" in English language was derived from the
word “tabu” in Tonga language (Naini, 2013). A British sailor
called Captain James Cook
was the first to note about it
when he was visiting Tonga in
1771 (Freud, 1999, as cited
in Ningjue, 2010). He went
there to study about the
transit of the planet Venus
across the Sun (Allan and Burridge, 2006). Cook observed
many strange social phenomena when he came to the island in
the South Pacific. He found out that some objects have their
own specific usage. For instance, some objects can only be used
by their chief or God, some are for common people, and some
are for special purposes where some other objects are for
general purposes only. This situation is what being called
"taboo" by the local people, which means to be holy or
untouchable (Freud, 1999, as cited in Ningjue, 2010).

To give a clearer explanation, Trudgill (2000: 18)

defines taboo in the following way,

“Taboo can be characterized as being concerned with

behavior which is believed to be supernaturally forbidden or
regarded as immoral or improper; it deals with behavior which
is prohibited or inhibited in an apparently irrational manner. In
language, taboo is associated with things which are not said, and
in particular with words and expressions which are not used.”
In the first
book of Harry
Potter, the reader
introduced with
the word that
really improper
to be said. The
word is the most
taboo subject to
Do you know
what the word is?
Do you still
remember about


Let's have a look

with the very first
chapter from the
book Harry Potter
and the Sorcerer's
"Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself." –

This is it.
In this case, people in
harry Potter's wizard life
just too scared to spell the
name. They believed that
mentioning the name of
Voldemort includes as
taboo words.
Based on the Harry Potter Wiki, Voldemort known also as
Tom Marvolo Riddle, later known as Lord Voldemort or
alternatively as You-Know-Who, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-
Named, or the Dark Lord, was an English half blood wizard
considered to have been the most powerful and
dangerous Dark Wizard of all time.
Let's see the movie scene between Harry and his best friend,
Ron Weasley.

Ron Weasley always surprised every time Harry mention

You-know-who with his real name; Voldemort. Even in one
conversation Ron got tired when hearing the forbidden name.
Ron ever whispered to Harry and said, “stop saying the name!”
The fact that Ron wasn’t even said the name, but he still
terrified every time Harry mention the name. As taboo as it to
be said. The effect of saying taboo words would have some
impacts even to the listener. Just like the conversation between
Harry Potter and Ron Weasley.
Based on the book Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s stone,
mostly people worried to say the name of Voldemort. They
prefer to mention his name as you-know-who. In the book,
there was only 30 times when Voldemort names mentioned
and the word "Voldemort" only said by Harry and Professor
Albus Dumbledore.
Once Harry ever referred Voldemort as you-know-who. Let’s
have a look with Harry’s conversation with Professor Albus

Indeed some words are better left unsaid. But, just because the

words are not able to be said doesn't mean we should be afraid about it.

Sometimes, people created their own fear which actually not even

The taboo words in Harry Potter appears because of their beliefs

that Lord Voldemort will be seen in all of the sudden if someone called

his real name. You-know-who is their implicit way in mentioning the

name of Voldemort. As long as the words are not contain with immoral

or inappropriate words, you can say it! It's not even hard to say

VOLDEMORT, is it? Anyway, that is just a name. Don't worry!!!

Allan, K. and Burridge, K. 2006. Forbidden Words: Taboo and the
Censoring of Language. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Naini, A. 2013. Taboo Expressions Used in Live Free or Die Hard 4

Movie. Jombang: SekolahTinggiKeguruandanIlmuPendidikan.

Ningjue, Z. 2010. Taboo Language on the Internet: An Analysis of

gender in Using Taboo Language. Sweden: Kristianstad

Rowling. J.K. 1998. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. USA:
Scholastic Press.

Trudgill, P. 2000. Sociolinguistics: An Introduction to Language and

Society (Fourth Edition). London: Penguin Group.
About the Writers :
Kaaf Iklilah Siregar (0304162141)

Raisa Ainaa (0304162078)

English Education Department

State Islamic University of
North Sumatera