Remember when your mom used to tell you that you sounded less intelligent than you were when you cursed?
Well, according to a study recently published in the journal Language Sciences, it might be time to put to rest the long-held belief that a foul mouth means you have a fewer selection of words to choose from. In fact, it found that the more sailor-like your swearing tendencies, the greater your overall language fluency.
In your f****** face, Mom. (Just kidding — you’re wonderful.)
For the study, psychologists Kristin Jay and Timothy Jay of Marist College and the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts recruited participants between the ages of 18 and 22, and asked them to do an experiment I’d really like to partake in: Blurt out as many curse words as they could think of in a minute and then follow that with 60 seconds of reciting as many animal names as possible.
Jay and Jay found that people who cursed more — pretty much regardless of gender — also named more animals, leading them to conclude that those with R-rated tongues had larger vocabularies.
“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 researchers wrote. “The overall finding of this set of studies, that taboo fluency is positively correlated with other measures of verbal fluency, undermines the [normal] view of swearing.”
But not all swearing is created equal. The study also found that those who curse a lot aren’t just smarter; they’re actually better at cursing than those with cleaner mouths. They’re better at identifying the difference between an “appropriate” curse word (i.e. “shit,” “fuck,” ass,” etc.) and an “inappropriate” one (i.e., racial slurs).
So, the next time you stub your toe, get pulled over, or just miss your train, feel free to let the f-bombs fly. (A study says it’ll probably help ease the pain a little, too.) You might get some stares, but really, who gives a shit?