There is a common misconception that many people hold when it comes to hearing other people swear. Many times, people believe that using profane language must mean that people are rude or not intelligent enough to have conversations without swearing. It turns out that this might not be true at all though according to a study that stems from 2014. Timothy Jay and Kristin Joy have found that using words considered swear words could be a sign that a person has a better vocabulary.
How Was the Study Conducted?
The study looked at 43 people who were in their late teen year to their early 20s. Their knowledge of “bad words” was compared with their general vocabulary. The study included a controlled oral word association test as a way to see how well the subjects were able to list words when they asked. They had to write down as many animals and swear words as they could using a prompt of a single letter. They were given a minute to write down the results. The subjects then were asked to write down as many animals and swear words they knew in general, without a single letter prompt.
They discovered that just because someone might use profanities, it does not mean that they had a limited vocabulary. They found that those who were more fluent in swear words tended to be more fluent verbally. The more curse words a person knew the better their vocabulary.
One of the other surprising things the researchers discovered was that many people who swore were not content to use the basic curse words. They would also combine different curse words to come up with various combinations. Some of them were quite creative despite some believing them to be vulgar. It does not mean that someone who swears necessarily has a larger or better vocabulary in all cases. It does, however, mean that most people will have a vocabulary that is similar to one anotherwhether they swear or not.
What Does This Mean?
It simply means that before judging someone who swears as being ignorant and limited in their vocabulary, people may want to rethink things. The study clearly shows that those people who swear will likely have a vocabulary that is as good as those who do not curse. Of course, this does not mean that the study was perfect.
One of the other drawbacks of the study was that it did not look at the frequency of swearing, so they were not able to determine whether the amount a person swore affected their vocabulary.The sample study was admittedly small, of course, and that means that there will likely need to be more studies in this area to get a definitive result. However, it’s unknown whether there will be more studies related to knowledge of swear words and vocabulary.