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Study Says People Who Swear Have Better Vocabulary

Study Says People Who Swear Have Better Vocabulary

If you’re like most us, you grew up being reprimanded when you uttered those oh so controversial curse words. Parents would sigh, teachers would scorn, and your classmates would laugh. But, over time, after so many trips to the Principal’s office, nights grounded, and lectures about how only the uneducated and vulgar swear, the appeal may have worn off. So if you’re reading this headline and thinking “You’re kidding, right?”,  I’m not surprised. But the beauty of this is that I’m not kidding.

Science suggests that if you have a rich vocabulary of swear words, you just may be the bomb in the language department.

Here are the details. A recent 2015 study published in Language Science compared the general vocabulary of a group of 43 subjects with their knowledge of swear words. The researchers assessed vocabulary through three one-minute language exercises. The first one minute was spent asking each study subject to name as many words as they could that started with a particular letter. Next, the researchers asked subjects to name as many animals as they could within one minute. In the final minute, the researchers asked each subject to name as many so-called “taboo words” (aka swear words) as they could.

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While you might have expected that the people who could name more swear words are probably those who lacked general language skills– the data tell the opposite story. Those subjects who were able to name a lot of words in the first two tests were also those who got creative in the taboo words they named. These results aren’t surprising given that if a person has an expansive vocabulary overall then this will naturally include swear words as well – the so-called “fluency is fluency” theory.

Interestingly, not all uses of swear words are equal – it takes intelligence to use swear words correctly.

After all, can you deny that there is a significant distinction between an asshat and a pissant? I thought not.

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While this is one of the first studies to examine swear words and vocabulary, there have been on-going studies assessing the consequences of swearing. If you’re wondering if there is a sharp downside of having an extensive vocabulary of swear words – fear not. An article by researchers Drs. Jay and Janschewitz mention that in their work analyzing over 10,000 “public episodes of swearing,” they have never seen negative consequences resulting from this language. In fact, they find that most uses are “not in anger; they are innocuous or produce positive outcomes.” In their article, they cite that swearing can reduce stress, substitute for physical aggression, promote humor, enhance storytelling or foster the connection between people. Another study even suggested that swearing can increase pain tolerance by disrupting the link between fear of pain and pain perception. All of these benefits may underlie the widespread use of swear words, even among the most educated, smart, and creative.

Swearing may not only serve as a marker of an extensive vocabulary but – when used in conversation – could have a cathartic effect.

This is not to say that you should now infuse curse words into your every sentence for your overall well-being. Not is it meant to suggest that people that swear are smarter or well-versed than others. The researchers of the study on swearing and vocabulary never examined how frequently the people swore in conversation. Rather, what was measured was simply their knowledge of swear words. The takeaway, therefore, is that knowing a vast array of swear words is not a marker of low intelligence, poor breeding, ignorance or whatever other nasty traits we may have been told it represented.

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Even in the most casual of circumstances, people will always be offended by swear words. So you may want to limit swearing for those times when so-called “clean” language just won’t capture the situation at hand, for example, when you meet someone who can only be described as a douchebag. After all, it shows that you understand the language and are choosing the most appropriate term to describe that unsavory person. And saying it might even serve to reduce your frustration with them and get a laugh or two from some new friends.

Featured photo credit: Viktor Hanacek via picjumbo.com

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Last Updated on July 13, 2020

9 Simple Ways to Always Stay Positive

9 Simple Ways to Always Stay Positive

It’s common to be struck with a bout of pessimism, or to naturally be more towards the pessimistic end of the perspective spectrum. It’s hard to see the positives in life and become an optimist when you’re lost in the murky waters of negative thinking.

However, Henrik Edberg, the founder of The Positivity Blog is here to share nine ways we can create a more optimistic outlook and positive perspective:

“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.” — Maria Robinson

When I was younger — in my teens and early 20s — I was trapped. Not physically, but mentally: by the destructive thought pattern called pessimism. This negative thinking poisoned what might have been a pretty good and opportunity-filled childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood. This pessimism created ceilings and walls where there really were none.

Throughout the period when I was ridden by pessimism, my life and I mostly stood still. Looking back, it was a terrible waste. If you are in pessimistic place, you don’t have to stay there for the rest of your life. I didn’t, for I learned to replace my negative thinking with optimism.

In this article I’ll explore nine positivity habits that have helped me to go from someone who was pessimistic most of the time to someone who is now optimistic almost all the time. I recommend to not try to add all the habits at one go but to choose one habit and to practice it for 30 days so it becomes a habit, before adding the next.

1. Ask Yourself the Right Questions

This is the simplest but perhaps also the most important habit I have discovered in adopting an optimistic mindset. The questions we ask ourselves day in and day out when we wind up in negative, difficult or uncertain situations make all the difference in our life.

A pessimist might ask him/herself questions like:

  • “Why did this happen to me?”
  • “Why do bad things happen to me all the time?”

But an optimist asks him/herself the questions that open up the mind to new viewpoints and possibilities. A few of my favorite questions for finding the optimistic perspective are:

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  • “What is one good thing about this situation?”
  • “What can I learn from this situation?”
  • “What is one small step I can take today to start solving this situation?”

2. Create a Positive Environment to Live In

The people you spend your time with and the information you let influence your mind will have a huge effect on your attitude and how you think about things.

Watch this YouTube video and learn the power of a positive environment:

So choose to:

  • Spend more time with the people who lift you up. And less time – or no time – with people who just bring you down by being negative and critical. Read: You are the Average of the 5 People You Spend the Most Time With
  • Let in the information that supports you. Spend less time on negative and self-esteem damaging media sources and spend more time reading positive and constructive blogs and books, watching motivating movies, listening to inspirational songs, and listening to audio books and podcasts created by optimistic people. Check out 12 Inspirational Movies With Important Life Lessons To Learn and 25 Most Inspirational Songs of All Time.

3. Be Grateful for What You Have (Don’t Forget About Yourself Too)

A very simple and quick way to boost the positive energy in your life is to tap into gratitude.

I usually do it by asking one or more of these questions:

  1. What can I be grateful for in my life today?
  2. Who are 3 people that I can be grateful to have in my life and why?
  3. What are 3 things I can be grateful for about myself?

Just spend 60 seconds or a few minutes during your day with answering one of these questions to reap the wonderful benefits.

4. Don’t Forget About Your Physical Self

Being an optimist isn’t just about thinking in a different way. It is also about caring for the physical part of ourselves.

I have found that working out a couple of times a week, enough quality sleep each night and eating healthy food has a huge effect on my mindset.

If I mismanage those very basic things then negative thoughts pop up far more often and I become more pessimistic and shut down about the possibilities in my life.

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So don’t neglect these basic fundamentals. Just caring for your physical self the right way can minimize a whole bunch of problems in life.

5. Start Your Day in an Optimistic Way

The way you start your morning can set the tone for the rest of your day. For example, a stress-free morning often leads to less stress during the rest of the day.

So how can you set an optimistic tone for your day?

A three-step combination that has worked very well for me is to ask myself a gratitude question during breakfast, read some positive information online or in a book very early in the morning and then follow that up with exercising.

This sets my mind on the right path and fills me up with energy for my day.

6. Focus on Solutions

A sure way to feel more negative about a situation is to sit around and do nothing about it. Instead, use the questions I shared in step one and open up your mind to the possibilities of the situation you are in.

If you have trouble to get started with taking action, ask yourself:

What is one small step I can take today to get the ball rolling?

Then take that small step forward. However small this step is, it can have a big effect in your mood and thoughts. If the step feels too big or it just makes you procrastinate, then ask yourself:

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What is an even smaller step I can take to move forward today?

The most important thing is to move forward, even if it’s a tiny baby step.

7. Reduce Your Worries

The worrying habit is a powerful and destructive one and can take over anyone’s thinking. It used to be one of my biggest obstacles to optimism and to moving forward in life.

Two effective steps that have helped me and still help me to this day to minimize the worries are:

  1. Ask yourself: how many of my worries ever happened in reality? If you are like me you will find that the answer is: very few. Most of the things you fear throughout your life will never happen. They are just nightmares or monsters in your own mind. This question can help you to do a reality check, to calm down and to realize that you have most likely just been building another imaginary nightmare.
  2. Focus on solutions and the action you can take. The worries grow stronger in a foggy mind and an inactive body. So use the questions in Steps 1 and 6 to move out of your worries and into resolution.

8. Don’t Let Ideals Ruin Things

A common mistake people make when making a shift in their attitudes is that they think that they have be perfect and do things perfectly all the time. This traps them from being positive.

Changing to a positive attitude can be gradual. While you may slip and stumble, continuing this way over time will strengthen your positive viewpoint more and more.

But if you set an inhuman standard for yourself and think you have to go from being a pessimist to always being an optimist, then you may find it hard to live up to that. And so you may feel like a failure. You get angry with yourself. And you may even give up on changing this habit and fall back into negative thinking.

So instead, focus on gradual change. If you are optimistic 40% of the time right now, try to improve this to being optimistic 60% of the time. Then, increase that to 80% when you are used to the new standard, then subsequently 100% if you can.

This focus on gradual improvement is far more sustainable and likely to bring long-term success than trying to reach an inhuman standard grounded in perfection.

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9. Finally, a Reminder to Help You to Not Give Up

I would like to end this article with a simple but powerful and timeless thought that comforted and encouraged me to continue on when things looked bleak.

That thought is: It is always darkest before the dawn.

This thought has helped me to hold on and keep going when my social skills and dating life was just plain bad. It has helped me to continue on in my online business when things looked like they would never pick up. It has helped me to put one foot over another even when things looked dark.

I have found this thought to be very true. Why? Because when things seemed to be at the lowest for my blog, business, dating life or life in general, something positive would always happened. That’s probably because being at a low point forced me to change how I did things.

But maybe also because life has a way of evening itself out when I go on. By taking action rather than give up, something good will always happens.

Seeing this thought live itself out has strengthened my belief in staying optimistic, in taking action and to keep going even when going through rough patches.

Re-syndicated 9 Simple Habits to Stay Positive in Life | Personal Excellence

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Featured photo credit: Allie Smith via unsplash.com

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