Swearing means bigger vocabulary

By admin
19 December 2015

Are you the potty mouth in your group of friends? If so, you may be the brainiest of the bunch, as people who swear a lot have been found to have a bigger vocabulary than those who shun bad words.

US-based psychologists Kristin and Timothy Jay asked 49 participants aged between 18 and 22 to say as many swear words that sprang to mind within 60 seconds. They were then asked to list as many animals as they could in the same amount of time. Those who swore the most were more likely to name more animals, which the researchers saw as a link between cursing and higher verbal fluency.

On top of this, Kristin and Timothy noted the potty mouths were also able to use language more expressively. The findings were published in the Languages Sciences journal.

"We cannot help but judge others on the basis of their speech," the pair wrote. "Unfortunately, when it comes to taboo language, it is a common assumption that people who swear frequently are lazy, do not have an adequate vocabulary, lack education, or simply cannot control themselves.

"The overall finding of this set of studies, that taboo fluency is positively correlated with other measures of verbal fluency, undermines the (normal) view of swearing."

They also pointed out that the participants who swore a lot held higher linguistic knowledge.

This isn't the first time swearing has been studied; previous research has found various benefits linked with cursing. One of these is that it makes you feel less pain; Richard Stephens of Keele University discovered college students who were encouraged to yell profanities could submerge their hands in ice water for 40 seconds longer than those not allowed to swear. This also suggests cursing is a coping mechanism and can help us get through difficult things with less of a struggle.

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