Good news for Malcolm Tucker-style Sweary Marys - scientists say the habit is not a sign you're bad with words and unable to express yourself, as many people would have you believe.
In fact, new research suggests the swearier among us have a more comprehensive vocabulary than those who refrain from blaspheming. **** yeah.
Scientists studied people's ability to name as many swear words as they could within 60 seconds. The same test was given but with animal names and other non-sweary words.
Comparing the two, the research, published in the Language Sciences journal, found those who could name more profanities were able to name more words overall.
The authors of the study, psychologists Kristin and Timothy Jay, said:
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 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.”
Swearing may indicate smarts, but other researchers studying swears (and why the **** not?), have found bad language can indicate political affiliation.