Speakers who use taboo words understand their general expressive content as well as nuanced distinctions that must be drawn to use slurs appropriately — Researchers
Do you swear a lot? If you do, you might like what is coming! A new study claims those who swear a fair amount are not lazy or uneducated as they are often made out to be.
In fact, having a sharpened salacious tongue is a healthy indicator of verbal abilities, wrote US-based psychologists Kristin Jay and Timothy Jay in the Language Sciences journal.
They worked with the “poverty of vocabulary” concept — which is premised on the assumption that people swear because they lack the intellectual capacity to find another way to express themselves — to see if there is any connection between the tendency to swear and inarticulateness.
As part of their research, they compared lists of swear words rattled out by a set of college students in 60 seconds against outcomes of non-swearing tasks, like animal names they could think of in the same space of time.
The results showed that students who could come up with the maximum number of swear words could also produce the most words in other categories. If the “poverty of vocabulary” explanation was true, then the opposite should have been the case.
“We cannot help but judge others on the basis of their speech. 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 psychologists wrote in the journal.
“The overall finding of this set of studies, that taboo fluency is positively correlated with other measures of verbal fluency, undermines the POV (Poverty of Vocabulary) view of swearing. That is, a voluminous taboo lexicon may better be considered an indicator of healthy verbal abilities rather than a cover for their deficiencies.
"Speakers who use taboo words understand their general expressive content as well as nuanced distinctions that must be drawn to use slurs appropriately.”