Social Question

Tachys's avatar

Does swearing indicate a lack of vocabulary?

Asked by Tachys (1525points) January 2nd, 2013

It seems that swearing is becoming more common. Do you think this is due to limited vocabularies? Do you swear a lot?

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66 Answers

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

No. I have an extensive vocabulary. I just enjoy using certain swear words. Especially the F word.

DrBill's avatar

I consider it an under developed mind trying desperately to express itself.

bossob's avatar

I think it’s due to laziness. It’s become acceptable to use swear words as space fillers in a sentence in lieu of meaningful adjectives and modifiers. On Fluther, it slows down my comprehension as I either mentally remove the space filling words, or try to ascertain what the writer intended the words to mean.

I generally use swear words as expletives, or when I’m really, really pissed off, which doesn’t happen frequently.

wundayatta's avatar

I think it tends to indicate a lack of much thought. It may also indicate a lack of vocabulary.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I have no idea. I did read once that people who swear a lot are more honest than others.

bob_'s avatar

Fuck no.

gailcalled's avatar

Not necessarily. It often implies a willingness to be boring, however.

Bellatrix's avatar

I don’t think anyone could argue Stephen Fry has a poor vocabulary. This is his position on swearing.

Oh and fucking oath I do!

gailcalled's avatar

^^^ I wish I had been able to find that funny. The problem with swearing itself is that there are only so many fucking oaths. You run out of them too soon and have to start repeating yourself.

AshLeigh's avatar

I could think of countless other words to use in it’s place, but I like to say the fuck word.

Sunny2's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I would question that statement’s origin. Unless they are talking about speaking without thought instead of self-editing as you go. Perhaps I’m agreeing with the lack of vocabulary idea. You can’t edit if you don’t have choices of ways to express yourself. Y’know?

cutiepi92's avatar

Nah, some stuff just comes out unconsciously. I have an extensive vocabulary, but that doesn’t keep me from saying “fuck” automatically if someone cuts me off while I am driving lol. I think swearing is a choice. I used to not, but I always felt like I had to “edit” myself you know? It’s not that I can’t use better words, it’s just that I don’t want to lol

bookish1's avatar

Not necessarily. I started swearing a lot rather early on in an attempt to compensate for the fact that I was too… bookish. I used to be a living dictionary for my classmates, and I got a perfect on the Verbal section of the SAT.

Yeahright's avatar

I don’t think it indicates a lack of vocabulary. It’s just a different choice of vocabulary, albeit a very limited one. People consciously use swearing to be funny, to offend other people, to be rude, to express their anger and dissatisfaction, etc. Some people find joy and amusement in it. I think it makes them feel they are a part of an irreverent group and they do it because they can. There is a lot of stuff behind swearing (and behind not swearing for that matter) but I don’t think that lack of vocabulary is one of them.

bookish1's avatar

come on Symbeline, I’m counting on ya, fluthermucker!!

Berserker's avatar

Anybody familiar with George Carlin at all? As a stand up comedian, he was an extremely intelligent man, with much knowledge of the English language, among other things. Yet he swore constantly.
So no, I don’t think people who swear a lot indicate a lack of vocabulary. Sure, Carlin wrote all his stuff in advance, but I really don’t think an excessive use of the word fuck, shit or whatever else that’s considered a swear means a lack of vocabulary.
The problem with swearing is that it’s so common that it has infiltrated the languages to a level that reaches the norms of everyday talk, (at least English and French as far as I can tell) and when it’s used in emotional response, it’s just what comes out for a lot of people…what, am I supposed to be all educated and imaginative when I stub my toe or when I drop and break a plate? If this myth of swearing was true, the same could be said of people who don’t swear, but still use common words or expressions constantly; oh my god, right on, awesome…swearing is offending so it sticks out, and therefore it’s easy to condemn, but I don’t think it should be taken away and imprisoned on its own, away from other, non offending words and expressions used by people all the time. I bet a lot of people who don’t swear or really dislike it would argue my point about non offending words used daily, within the same situations as swearing.
The only time I would cut swearing away from the rest is because of its rebellious nature and how many wish to use swearing for that very reason.

I’m pretty sure most people are a slave to their culture’s phrasal habits, or out of nowhere wording that occurs once stuff like fear, surprise or anger or whatever present themselves. That doesn’t stop those very people of being intelligent or imaginative though.

I swear because that’s my style, and I’m far from being a genius, but I’m very capable of taking the swearing away and replacing it with something else if I have to, whether online or in real life. Although I do have a big interest in the history of cuss words and expressions, that kind of helps me. Sure, some overuse it, I may be one of them, but I’m really not convinced that everyone who swears lacks a proper vocabulary/education/whatever else. There have been plenty of people in my life who swore/swear all the time, but have shown proof of varied vocabulary.
I think the main issue is how prominent it is in a lot of languages, and some might do it without thinking, or they don’t care who they offend or whatever. But that doesn’t stop that person from being able to vary and color their vocabulary with something else, if they want to.

My point however, is that more accepted words or expressions, as far as I can see, have absolutely no difference with constant swearing when it comes to this issue of vocabulary, other than swearing being offensive to many.

Self_Consuming_Cannibal's avatar

No, it fucking doesn’t. You fucking booger! lol

Being a rapper or a hip-hop star indicates a lack of vocabulary.

Berserker's avatar

Washoo dissin’ dar, three legged daaaawg? ’‘barks at yo flimsy ass’’

cookieman's avatar

@Symbeline: Excellent answer. I completely agree.

And I’m referring to your first answer, not that piece of shit excuse for a fucking answer above me :^)

flutherother's avatar

@gailcalled (it’s) short for it is.

augustlan's avatar

I have a fairly large vocabulary, and swear like a sailor. It’s just the way I’m made, I think.

ucme's avatar

I agree entirely with @WillWorkForChocolate, I like using the f-word too, especially in her presence ;¬}

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

^^ High fuckin’ five!

ucme's avatar

It’s an argument used by people, because it suits them to believe it’s so.
Obviously if someone has the intellect of a stuffed olive & swears all the time with hostility, then fair enough, but to swear just for the lulz, nowt wrong with that.

SABOTEUR's avatar

In some cases, it’s nothing more than adapting the habits of people you associate with.

One of my daughters recently invited her friend to visit for a couple days. After the young lady left, my daughter told us her friend enjoyed her visit, but found it unusual that we (the parents) don’t “cuss”.

It’s not that we don’t “cuss”...we find it inappropriate to “cuss” around children or in normal everyday use, unless we do so for emphasis.

caz's avatar

Swearing often is a form of anger… This is when i tend to use it… Or when i hit my bloody toe on that bloody sofa…

caz's avatar

Some say it’s a form of ignorance?

caz's avatar

Yet it can be so strong in putting a point across if normal words aren’t working… I think there is a time and place for it and people make too much fuss of it these days….

SABOTEUR's avatar

I do think it’s ignorant to swear around people who may find it offensive. What’s so important for you to say that you can’t say without using profanity? It’s the ignorant mindset that says “I do because I can.”

caz's avatar

” Ignorant mindset ” “I do it because i can ” says it all….

SABOTEUR's avatar

@caz Too much fuss?

Don’t get me started. Prior to Howard Stern moving to satellite radio, it was the FCC’s goal to fine Stern affiliate stations every time someone complained about inappropriate language.

Turn on Disney, Nick or any number of shows directed at children and you see and hear the effect of society’s lackadaisical attitude regarding appropriate language and behavior. These are among the most smut filled shows on the air.

Oh…and songs. My kids have to tell me to switch stations because of the trash that passes for lyrics.

(Breathing heavily)

I’m sorry…guess I lost myself…

caz's avatar

That’s fine… I’m laughing….

caz's avatar

It can go to the rediculous to the sublime…

caz's avatar

Still laughing and not even sure if i spelt that right but am sure you know what i mean….

caz's avatar

And yet the little box tells me to check work before i send… ” i think ”

SABOTEUR's avatar

I understood.

Worse than disagreeing with someone here is correcting their spelling.

Don’t even think about it.

caz's avatar

It’s strange i used to be able to spell better when i was ten…

caz's avatar

Need a refresher course….

caz's avatar

Mind you can spell some terrible swear words… Arrrrrrrrr ignorance is bliss…

caz's avatar

I know the brain allows for people like me ,so not to fussed….

caz's avatar

I can understand text ect where the brain even mine, knows what it’s mean’t to be provided it’s in context….

SABOTEUR's avatar

You think that’s a problem? I work in a business environment where (supposedly) college grads have difficulty composing complete sentences, much less spell correctly. (Bet they can curse with the best of ‘em, though) But that’s a rant for another thread…

caz's avatar

There is hope for me after all…..

caz's avatar

But in answer to your question…” No” i don’t believe swearing indicates lack of vocabulary…..

caz's avatar

Esp if it’s done in the best possible taste… That’s another thread too…

SABOTEUR's avatar

I agree, swearing does not indicate a lack of vocabulary…

…it’s preferring (conscious or otherwise) to use the most profane words of that vocabulary.

wundayatta's avatar

I’d be willing to bet that, in the overall population, there is a correlation between frequency of swearing and size of vocabulary. An inverse relationship.

Shippy's avatar

No, its shows you have added even MORE words to your vocabulary.

TheProfoundPorcupine's avatar

I think it adds some colour to what may be a pretty bleak landscape most of the time.

wundayatta's avatar


[Wundy runs away in horror, wondering what happened to all the nice jellies who don’t seem to swear much here]

Berserker's avatar

So what, all of us who do swear are just complete assholes? :p

wundayatta's avatar

Aww, @Symbeline. You can do no wrong. I’m so totally in love with you. You can swear at me all you want!

bookish1's avatar

I only want nice people to respond, you fucking assholes!!

wundayatta's avatar

Yes, Randy!

Berserker's avatar

Let’s swear at each other under the orange tree, you butt monkeys.

Berserker's avatar

what the fuck IS the orange tree?

wundayatta's avatar

You can’t find the orange tree!

[Think Nicholson saying, “you can’t handle the truth!]

Berserker's avatar

but I wanted some oranges…

wundayatta's avatar

Sweetheart, you know what you need to do, and I’ll get you all the oranges you could want. Mmmm. Really delicious oranges.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@bookish1 There ARE no nice people, shit you son of a bitch!

mazingerz88's avatar

What should vocabulary be if not colorful? Pink fuckin underwear is awesome! See?

wundayatta's avatar

Green is a purplishly awesome orange. I mean, what the red?

Colorful speech, you know. ;-)

Only138's avatar

I think swearing allows me to sometimes have a more “creative” vocabulary. :)

tranquilsea's avatar

Every now and then I hear this come up either as the potty-mouthed person having a low vocabulary or a low IQ. It is usually stated by someone who is just moralizing. From my experience there is no evidence that either is true.

I’ve known extremely smart people who swear and some not so smart people who swear. In fact, I’ve noticed that often the smarter the person the more they swear or the more they have no problem with swearing.

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