Could bad language possibly be a good thing? Our Contributor Faith Salie swears it’s true:
Do you usually think you’re the smartest motherf****r in the room? You may be right! Based on a recent study, researchers found that people who curse a lot are more intelligent.
- ”Taboo word fluency and knowledge of slurs and general pejoratives: deconstructing the poverty-of-vocabulary myth,” Jay, K., Jay, T. (Language Sciences, November 2015)
Contrary to the negative stereotype that folks who swear have poor vocabularies, a fluency in taboo language correlates with overall verbal fluency. The more words you know, the more you know ... AND the more colorfully you can express yourself, with nuance, metaphor and emotion.
And I’m happy to note that men and women in this experiment swore in equal measure, so let’s hear it for the ladies!
There is something to all this. I definitely feel dumber now that I’m a mother of a two-year-old and a four-year-old. I thought it was sleep deprivation, but now I understand it’s because those adorable little s***s have been sabotaging my IQ. I’m squandering invaluable gray matter by censoring myself. Every time I say “Sugar!” and “Fudge!,” little neurons in my brain probably die.
My husband is a graduate of two Ivy League universities -- with a degree in Classics! -- and he sounds like a David Mamet character when I hear him on a business call.
Perhaps I should not be annoyed at my mother-in-law when she uses the “F-word” in front of our children. Now I see that Grandma, a Ph.D., is merely trying to enrich their lexicon, so they can go to fine schools.
Also? Cursing makes you feel better. In another study, participants were asked to plunge their hands into ice water for as long as they could bear it. When they were encouraged to swear up a storm, they were able to keep their hands underwater 73% longer.
- ”Swearing as a response to pain,” Stephens, R., Atkins, J., Kingston, A. (Neuro Report, August 2009)
Even Shakespeare acknowledges the power of the profane, when he has Caliban in “The Tempest” declare,
“You taught me language,
and my profit on’t is,
I know how to curse.”
Now if you’ll please excuse me, I have to wash my mouth out with soap. Dugh, it’s gonna taste like dogs**t.
- Can profanity help your career? (CBS Moneywatch, 06/21/11)
- Town will fine you $150 for profanity (CBSN, 03/11/15)
- F-bomb insult on speeding ticket is free speech, judge rules (09/16/15)
For more info:
- ”Approval Junkie: Adventures in Caring Too Much” by Faith Salie (Crown Archtype); Also available in eBook and Digital Audio Download formats
More commentaries from Faith Salie:
- Confessions of an approval junkie
- On a first-name basis
- Death by selfie
- Donald Trump, “The Ugly American”
- 2015, when we cried tears of joy
- Keeping up those not-so-great expectations
- ”Whom”: The object of affection for the grammar police
- Don’t take selfies of your food
- Faith Salie shares her pet peeve on “oversharing”
- A shed of one’s own
- ”Get a grip” over spread of germs
- Spending your vacation days is good for America
- What’s the reality behind “senior moments”?
- Note to award-winners: Watch your mouth
- On speaking with “vocal fry”
- Just say no to twerking