If someone’s actually accused you of sounding less clever, never worry – research has got your back. A new study has found that those who have a healthy collection of curse words at their disposal are more likely to have a richer vocabulary than those who don’t.
The sort of twee person who thinks swearing is in any way a sign of a lack of education or a lack of verbal interest is just f*cking lunatic,” as Stephen Fry once said.
Psychologists Kristin Jay and Timothy Jay of Marist College and the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts created the theory that folks who’re properly-versed in curse words are more prone to have higher general language fluency also.
For the first experiment, they obtained 43 participants (30 women) between 18-22 years old, and first asked them to rattle off as many swear or taboo words as they could in 60 seconds. Next, they had to recite as many animal names as they could in 60 seconds. The researchers used animal names as an indication of a person’s overall vocabulary and interest in language.
The results? The participants ended up generating a total of 533 taboo words, including the rather obscure “cum dumpster” and “ass pirate”. The participants also submitted to so-called FAS tasks, which are standardised verbal fluency tests.
In an additional research, another 49 participants (34 women) aged between 18 and 22 were asked to execute the same task – now they were asked to create down as much cursed terms and animal names with the letter “a” as they may. Additionally they completed FAS jobs to evaluate their general language.
Writing inside the journal Language Sciences, the researchers also unearthed that significant problem words were created at higher rates than slurs, and there is a minor difference between exactly what the female and male players could think of.
[C]onsistent with findings that do not show a sex difference in taboo lexicon size, no overall sex difference in taboo word generation was obtained,” they report.
They unearthed that the capability to make curse words wasn’t an index of overall vocabulary poverty – in reality, they unearthed that taboo fluency was positively related with different procedures of verbal fluency.
Watch Stephen Fry in the video below as he discusses the joys of swearing, and feel that sweet, sweet vindication. But just remember: dropping “ass pirate” into a job interview is still not advised.