It’s one of those things you often hear: People swear because they don’t have the vocabulary skills to come up with better words. It’s called the “poverty-of-vocabulary” (POV) hypothesis, but is it true? PROBABLY F*CKING NOT.
Not only does cussing make robots seem funnier and pay off at the box office, but also a new study (previous studies here) confirms another benefit of dropping F-bombs on the regular: Being fluent in taboo words correlates with one’s overall verbal fluency. As Scientific American writes:
Taboo words hold a particular purpose in our lexicon that other words cannot as effectively accomplish: to deliver intense, succinct and directed emotional expression. So, those who swear frequently might just be more sophisticated in the linguistic resources they can draw from in order to make their point.
To test this, some fonzanoons at Marist College and the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts gave subjects a common test of verbal fluency — the Controlled Word Association Test (COWAT) — and also asked them to say every swear word they could remember for a minute straight. People who were the most f*cking awesome at swearing were also ace at verbal fluency.
Of course, this doesn’t necessarily mean these cussing experts are regularly peppering conversations with vulgarities. The test didn’t measure how often any test subject swears in everyday life. And correlation doesn’t equal causation yadda yadda all the f*cking disclaimers and sh*t.
This finding can serve as a nice empirical middle-finger from vulgarians everywhere, directed at those who had, until now, been unfairly judging them for their linguistic abilities. Swearing, it seems, can be creative, smart, and even downright lyrical.
As previously mentioned, this isn’t the first study of its kind. Last year, a study from The Language Sciences Journal also found a correlation between swear word fluency and overall verbal fluency. Then a study from Jeff Wilser and Dr. Richard Stephens found that cursing can help release adrenaline during childbirth and can serve as “a morale booster” in the workplace. (F*ck yeah it can.)
And I know what you may be asking. “Hey, motherf*cker, if this isn’t the first study to show this, why are you bringing this sh*t up here now?” Well, because I think it’s interesting, that’s why. And you know what we say to people who want to b*tch about the things we like…
(Via Scientific American)