If someone’s ever accused you of sounding less intelligent if you swear too much, don’t worry — science has got your back. A new study has recently discovered that those who have a healthy repertoire of curse words at their disposal are more inclined to have a richer language than people who don’t.
This challenges the long-held stereotype: people vow since they can not locate more smart words with which they can to communicate. As Stephen Fry once explained, “The type of twee individual who believes swearing is in any way a sign of a lack of education or a lack of verbal interest is merely f*cking lunatic.”
Psychologists Kristin Jay and Timothy Jay of Marist College and the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (not clear if related) came up with the theory that individuals that are well-versed in curse words are more likely to have higher overall language fluency too.
For the first experiment, they accumulated 43 participants (30 girls) aged between 18 and 22 years, and they asked them to fend off as many swear or taboo words as they can in 60 minutes. They had to recite as many animal names as they could in 60 minutes. The researchers utilized animal names as an indication of a individual’s overall language and interest in speech.
The participants filed to so-called FAS actions, which are standardised verbal fluency tests.
In another experiment, another 49 participants (34 women) aged between 18 and 22 were requested to perform a similar job — this time they had been asked to write down as many curse words and animal names beginning with the letter “a” as they could. They also completed FAS tasks to assess their overall language fluency.
Recently in the study that was published in the journal Language Sciences, the investigators have found that expressive curse words had been created at greater rates compared to slurs, and there was little difference between what the female and male participants could produce.
“Consistent with findings which do not show a sex difference in taboo lexicon size, no overall sex difference in taboo word generation was acquired,” they report.
They found that the capability to create curse words wasn’t an indicator of overall language poverty –and actually, they discovered that taboo fluency is positively correlated with other measures of verbal fluency.
“That’s a voluminous taboo lexicon may better be considered an indicator of healthy verbal abilities instead of a cover for their deficiencies,” the investigators conclude. “Speakers using taboo words comprehend their general expressive content as well as nuanced distinctions that must be attracted to utilize slurs appropriately. The ability to make nuanced distinctions indicates the presence of more instead of less linguistic understanding, as implied by the POV [Poverty of Vocabulary] view.”
Now, of course, it must be said that the sample size for this analysis was quite modest, but until a larger cohort could be assessed, we can look to one of the best living masters of the English language, Stephen Fry, for his view. But just remember: dropping “buttocks pirate” to a job interview remains not advised.