Your mom threatened you with soap when you blurted out your first curse word. Your school teacher wrote up a report when you told off the annoying girl who pulled your hair in third grade. Your friends wonder whether or not you have any other words in your vocab other than the five-letter kind.
So what, though, right? How the eff cares whether or not you swear? Well, scientists decided to find out what it actually means if you’re cursing all the time. The results are definitively in your favor…
Two psychologists, Kristin Jay and Timothy Jay, of Marist College and the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, respectively, wanted to figure out if a hypothesis they arrived at was true. Are people who swear more actually rather smart? And do they have a broader range of language fluency?
Upon launch of the project, they put together a panel of 43 participants between 18 and 22, and asked them to list off as many swear words as they could in 60 seconds. Participants were encouraged to list off “taboo” words as well–i.e. anything normally frowned upon in polite conversation. Then, they were asked to list off as many animals as they could in 60 seconds, using animal names as a barometer for vocabulary knowledge.
In total, 533 words were recorded–that includes “cum dumpster by the way–and the experiment lead to another one. This time, 49 participants were involved in the same age bracket, and asked to write down as many curses or animal names as they could beginning with the letter “a”. Both of these experiments also involved other FAS tasks, or essentially, verbal fluency tests.
The results they gathered can be found over at Language Sciences. What did they figure out? Well, for starters, whether you’re a guy or girl, it doesn’t matter because both sexes have the same proclivity, and fluency, in swears. Also, the ability to come up with swears has no real correlation between fluency or comprehension in language, and having a lack of it. Quite the opposite–the more one is fluent in swearing, the more one is fluent in all areas of vocabulary.
Here’s what the researchers said:
“That is, a voluminous taboo lexicon may better be considered an indicator of healthy verbal abilities rather than a cover for their deficiencies..Speakers who use taboo words understand their general expressive content as well as nuanced distinctions that must be drawn to use slurs appropriately. The ability to make nuanced distinctions indicates the presence of more rather than less linguistic knowledge, as implied by the POV [Poverty of Vocabulary] view.”
Although not a large study by any means, this can give you hope that you’re actually doing yourself a service by creatively swearing at your neighbor when his dog craps on your lawn. Even Stephen Fry, a well-known British actor and author, has something to say on the matter. His opinion counts, by the way, because he’s turned to often for his wit, intelligence, and delivery of speeches. So, next time someone asks you if your mother ever washed your mouth out with that soap, you can proudly say no, and point them to this video. Happy swearing, my friends!
Source: Science Alert