University researchers in the UK examined 100 papers on ‘swearing’ blunders in media communication.
Do you swear in everyday life and get censored for it? Swearing can be a common act these days. Although it’s usually associated with a lack of education, vocabulary and bad upbringing, some say they are a sign of intelligence. The study The Power of Swearing: What we know and what we don’t, published in October, explains how swearing can enrich and give more strength to public speaking. The scientific article was published in the journal Lingua.
To understand the power of swearing in dialogue, scientists from the Universities of Keele, Ulster and Westminster, in the United Kingdom, decided to look at 100 works on the subject. The objective was to understand the power of these words in communication.
“I think these kinds of studies end up putting a scientific label on what most people already know anyway,” Stephens said on a Canadian television show.
In the investigation, scientists came to the conclusion that saying swear words can be positive when used in social interactions or to convince someone of something. Swear words tend to be strong and heavy words to the ear, largely due to the connotation they have, but they are effective in persuasion because they make the speech more incisive. “People automatically seem more persuasive,” says this group of researchers.
According to the study, Swear words “have an emotional force that is not shared by other linguistic forms. They produce emotional arousal”. The work adds that “people know that if they get hurt, it’s a good idea to say a bad word, because it seems to help. At least when it comes to frustration”, says Stephens to the Canadian television station. Swear words are often used “as a way of convincing and demonstrating, in a more effective way, our authenticity as human beings”.
The researchers made a point of highlighting in the article that there are specific contexts in which profanity can add strength to oratory and others in which it is likely to be misunderstood. They state that the fact that there are still few studies on the subject in question leads to negative conclusions being drawn. Many are based on the censorship and judgment attributed to profanity. The latest discoveries may reveal positive features, but these are little known by the general public.
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