Notice: Hamlet has significantly less insults than the other three plays that we had analyzed, thus this data may be slightly skewed. However, we are confident with the results that we have produced for what we were given. Had we included the full scope of our original idea, that is, including insulting actions, we believe that there would have been a larger number of insults present within Hamlet.

Genre and Insults

Within our research, we found there to be no direct correlation between overall insult count and play genre. Comedies had a total count of 118 insults, whereas tragedies had a total count of 111 -- a difference of 7 total insults. However, something that we hadn't expected to see cropped up while going over our data. We noticed, and subsequently determined, that there is more variety within the comedy genre when compared to the tragedy genre.

Though there could be a number of reasons for this discrepancy, we speculate that it could be in part due to the fact that comedies typically rely on visual or verbal humor, rather than a tragedy, which typically involves a more dramatic tone.

In other words, insults are used in comedies as a way to convey humor, whereas insults are used in tragedies to convey anger.

The State of Different Relationships

Once we compiled our insults into data that we could understand, such as numbers and graphs, we noticed that a majority of relationships have a general animosity. Due to this, we must assume that Shakespeare rarely had the intention of using insults in jest. We initially assumed that this could be the case, especially in the comedies, but seeing as they hold a majority share in the present insults, we can tell that even there, the insults are meant to sting.

It is worth mentioning, however, that three of the seven relationship types do have some positive relationship status. These are friend-friend, parent-child, and couple-couple. Friends insulting each other would be one case where you would expect to see some insults that are not meant to harm rather annoy or satirize. The same can be said of the other two. Only one of these three however, manages to keep the amount of negative equal to the amount of positive, which is parent to child. The other two are still overwhelmingly negative. This is where we can draw the caveat that some insults are jestful, but this is often a rare case.

Speech Acts and Gricean Maxims

The most common combinations of illocutionary act type and maxim flouted for our insults was, as we somewhat expected, representative-manner and representative- quality. This is because the representative illocutionary type as well as the two maxims listed above were seen in our data significantly more frequently than any of their counterparts. Besides that much of what we found to address this question seemed fairly unreliable and therefore there is no direct answer that we came to for it.

That being said, we did find an interesting posibility that may be worth mentioning when trying to answer this question - we wonder if quality, in a research project with a larger corpus, would still prove to be combined with relatively fewer illocutionary act types than maxims such as manner (which we see in insults that employ all illocutionary types).

Although we cannot come to a true conclusion for this question, we think that in the scope of another project it could play a part in the broader exploration of the intersection between how people communicate insults and how they choose to convey them in speech.

Gender and Speech Acts

Gender does seem to have some significance in regards to the insults of Shakespeare. We claim this due to a number of observations we made throughout our project. Firstly, Shakespeare clearly writes far more insults from males to those of any gender than from females to those of any gender. Secondly, we noticed that even females insult males more than other females. Thirdly, females tend to be the hearers of primarily indirect insults, and this is the reverse for males.

We think that this could point to Shakespeare perhaps perceiving men as more prone to insulting others. As to what this may bring to light about his perception of women, it is harder to assume - perhaps he thought, due to the society that he lived within, that women should not be insulted as directly for the sake of maintaining some social custom.

Regardless of his intention, which very well could have been unconscious, it seems that gender and speech acts do have a clear set of tendencies in the plays that we analyzed.

Some final thoughts

When we set out on this project we wanted to discover if there was any correlation between play genre and insult frequency as well as explore the pragmatic features present that showed explicitly that these were insults. In terms of the first question we found there to be no difference between genre and overall insult count (however, note the above about Hamlet). In terms of pragmatic features we looked at direct vs indirect speech acts as well as illocutionary act types and Gricean Maxims. We found that there was a illocutionary act type that were over-represented (representative) and that the Gricean Maxim of manner was most often flouted. This showed us that not only are there indeed certain pragmatic features often present on insults but that there are some that are favored in order to convey the insulting nature of the speech act to the listener.

Future directions: The time we had for this project was limited however, ideally we would have liked to look at more plays in order to have more data on which to base our conclusions. We would also have liked to include our original idea of examining insulting actions as well as speech acts, which would have broadened our scope and perhaps yielded some interesting results.