Do People Who Swear a Lot Really Have Better Vocabularies?

We sure f***ing hope so

June 21, 2016 9:00 am


How many swear words can you think of in one minute?

That’s essentially the test a team of cognitive scientists at Marist College used earlier this year in an attempt to peg a correlation between an individual’s fluency with curse words and their command of a language as a whole.

The results of this test have been bandied about the internet this week as proof that people with filthy mouths tend to be better speakers than those who blush at them.

But that’s not exactly true.

The test — which is called a COWAT (Controlled Word Association Test — prompts subjects to think of as many words as they can that start with the same letter in a limited timeframe. The subjects then tackle a similar test prompting them to think of as many “taboo” words as possible in the same timeframe.

Results demonstrated a positive correlation between a robust vocabulary and a robust command of obscenities.

What that absolutely does not mean: that swearing a lot means you’re more articulate.

What it does mean: that swearing creatively means you’re more articulate.

This should come as no surprise. Many of the greatest wordsmiths in history — from Chaucer to Shakespeare to George Carlin — have been merchants of the ribald and profane.

So the next time you need a good insult, don’t reach for a common F-Bomb or C***sucker. Opt for a deeper cut. Inspiration below.

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