When It Comes To Swearing, Women Set Tongues Wagging


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You wouldn’t effing believe it, but women now swear more than men.

That’s the finding of a survey tracking the swearing habits of hundreds of people whose daily conversations were recorded and analysed over the past two decades.

The research found that in the early 1990s men said f–k 1000 times per million words, compared to just 167 times for women. But the preliminary results of the latest survey reveal men’s use of the expletive has dropped to 540 times, while women now break out the f-bomb 546 times per million words.

The full results of the Economic and Social Research Council survey in the UK will not be available until 2018, but Australian linguistics expert Kate Burridge said they would likely show a similar trend because swearing had become more accepted in society.

“What ‘nice’ girls say today is very different from what ‘nice’ girls used to say,” the Monash University professor said.

“There have been massive social changes that mean we’re getting informal language in the public much more than before. It’s been on the increase since the 1990s, especially on TV and radio.”

Melissa Mohr, author of Holy Shit … A Brief History of Swearing, said language rules were stricter for women than men, and that foul language was typically associated with lower classes and people with less self control.

But in a recent article she said studies showed that swearing also made a person more trustworthy. Writing in TIME about Donald Trump’s use of profanity during the election campaign, she said the use of swear words added to his appeal as a political outsider.

“When we hear people swear, we often assume that their words spring from a deep well of real feeling,” she said.

Professor Burridge said most foul language charges were now dismissed by courts unless they involved discrimination, such as racial or ethnic slurs. She said foul language cases were generally deemed “impolite, but not legally offensive.”

In an essay earlier this year, Professor Burridge wrote about the origin of the c-word and how the recent addition of its derivatives to the Oxford English Dictionary “barely raised an eyebrow”.

She refers to Captain Frances Grose’s 1785 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, in which it is defined as “a nasty word for a nasty thing”. The Oxford dictionary now lists its non-anatomical description as an “unpleasant or stupid person.” In 2008, it added c–t-struck to its edition.

Online Source: The Sydney morning Herald.

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