There is the general understanding that people who curse a lot do so to cover up for their poor pool of vocabulary, or because they are less intelligent; but a new study now associates the ability to curse a lot with richer vocabularies on the part of the curser.
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The study establishes that the ability to use different curse words at a fast rate indicates richer vocabularies and intelligent ability for self-expressions.
Two psychologists, Kristin Jay of Marist College, and Timothy Jay of Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (both experts are not related) hypothesized that people with a large repertoire of swear words possibly possess a greater fluency of language words.
The researchers conducted two experiments. In the first one, they recruited 30 women and 13 men aged between 18-22 years, and then asked them to rattle off as many taboo or curse words as they could within 60 seconds.
After this, they were asked to say as many animal names as they could in another 60 seconds – the researchers related the ability to reel off as many animal names as possible in record time with overall vocabulary and interest in given language.
The participants ended up giving 533 taboo or swear words. They were then asked to do FAS tasks which tests given to determine verbal fluency.
In a second experiment, 34 women and 15 men between 18-22 years of age were subjected to nearly the same task. They were asked to write as many animal names and swear or taboo words starting with the letter “a”. These also did FAS tests to evaluate their grasp of language and overall fluency.
Publishing their finding in the journal Language Sciences, the researchers noted that the ability to generate as many swear or curse words as possible is a sign of verbal fluency and a measure of intelligence with words.
"That is, a voluminous taboo lexicon may better be considered an indicator of healthy verbal abilities rather than a cover for their deficiencies," the researchers conclude.
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"Speakers who use taboo words understand their general expressive content as well as nuanced distinctions that must be drawn to use slurs appropriately. The ability to make nuanced distinctions indicates the presence of more rather than less linguistic knowledge, as implied by the POV [Poverty of Vocabulary] view," they wrote.