Science has good news for the potty-mouthed.
Whatever your mother used to tell you, recent research actually shows those with a broad knowledge of profanity, actually tend to have a larger vocabulary than those who never utter a dirty word. And apparently, that's not the only benefit of a healthy familiarity with less-than-polite terminology, according to science.that
To make a friend, swear with (or maybe even at) them.
Swearing is actually a useful skill, explains Noah Berlatsky recently on Quartz. Which is why he's happy for his wife to swear around his 12-year-old son. What are the benefits of swearing like sailor? To make his case Berlatsky cites Michael Adams, author of In Praise of Profanity, who argues:
has many useful social functions including "bring[ing] us together." There's an intimacy to cursing, precisely because you know that you're not supposed to do it. My son understands that by swearing in front of him, his mom is reaffirming her trust in him; this is something that can be shared between the two of them, but isn't to be repeated in school (please god.)
"Bad words," Adams writes, "are unexpectedly useful in fostering human relations because they carry risk....We like to get away with things and sometimes we do so with like-minded people."
Swearing, in other words, by being just a little forbidden, makes us slightly vulnerable in front of others, so sharing an off-color insult is an effective way to bond with them. Adams also points out that swearing also often serves an artistic purpose -- just imagine The Sopranos or that parenting class, Go the F*** to Sleep minus the profanity if you need to be convinced.
Which isn't to say you should simply smile if your five-year-old calls her teacher something unprintable on this website. There is, of course, a time and place for swearing, and the right to use profanity should probably be contingent on a person being able to fully understand those subtle social niceties.
But for those of us who are adept enough to feel our way through delicate situations and suss out new acquaintances, swearing, science attests, has genuine utility -- letting loose with a string of filth can actually be a great way to cement your bond with new and old friends alike.
So maybe there's some truth to this meme I saw shared on Facebook recently. If you trust someone as a true friend, it suggests, one of the best ways to show it is to call them something just a little bit disgusting: