Fluent use of profanity can be a sign of an articulate nature and a deep intelligence, say researchers from two separate studies. So, the next time you find yourself unleashing a string of f-bombs next to a set of raised eyebrows, take comfort in knowing mom did not (necessarily) create a monster.
The Language Sciences Journal set out with a mission — to test a theory called “poverty of vocabulary,” which held that those who swear do so through an inability to grasp sophisticated words. The results will thrill those of us who drop f-bombs at every opportunity. As it turns out, people who swear actually have a greater vocabulary than those who keep things clean.
This simple study involved subjects tossing out as many random swear words as possible in one minute. Those who excelled at this task were also able to do so with groups of animals, plants, and so on. The researchers concluded that those who swore the most profusely also articulated themselves well in a number of other areas.
Now, these results may simply be correlative, but we want to believe. According to the study’s lead researchers (Kristin and Timothy Jay), we can trash all previous assumptions that potty-mouthed folk lack restraint and education — it simply isn’t the case:
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.