Over the last 60 years, swear words’ appearances have increased dramatically in books. Led by San Diego State University psychologist and author Jean M. Twenge, a study using the Google Books Ngram selected seven curse words to testify a hypothesis related to the increased prevalence of swearing in books. In her results, one particular swear word is shown to have multiplied 678 times in books since the 1950s. Other words follow less aggressive yet similar trends and you can refer to the table below to see exactly which ones have proliferated. In general, books published in 2005-2008 were 28 times more likely to include inappropriate use of language than books published in the early 1950s.
However, this research effort was not used to hail criticisms towards contemporary writing’s rampant barbarism but rather to identify with the reason behind such a phenomenon and the positive impacts associated with the prevalence of profanity. Twenge linked our current culture’s widespread profanity to Americans’ established and ever-increasing advocacy of individualism in his paper on The Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television. What millennials are unaware of is that not only are they the generation that keeps libraries alive, they are also responsible for driving social trends that encourage the rest of the population to concede old-fashioned taboos.
“Individualism is a cultural system that emphasizes the self more and social rules less,” Twenge said to the Los Angeles Times. “So as social rules fell by the wayside, and people were told to express themselves, swearing became more common. I think this cultural lens is the best way to view it, rather than as bad or good. ”
Via Oxford Dictionaries
Nowadays, profanity is not necessarily considered as disrespectful or offesnive because it renders readers with a sense of originality and truth. When a fictional character experiences extreme anger in a certain situation, exclaiming “oops” or “ugh” just isn’t enough to articulate the true extent of his wrath. In fact, The Sellout by American author Paul Beatty, a book containing plentiful examples of expletive language won the Man Booker prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award in Fiction last year. Similarly, Jenni Fagan’s The Panopticon was used by the Guardian to demonstrate the positive effects of increased profanity. The success of these books only goes to show that individualism has propelled the American literature towards an interestingly positive direction.
“Millennials have a ‘come as you are’ philosophy and this study shows one of the ways they got it: The culture has shifted toward freer self-expression,” Twenge said.
Via College Times
According to a report by Psychology Today, statistical results have proven that the swearing can increase pain tolerance, strength, and overall physical performance because this form of speech stimulates the body’s sympathetic nervous system.
“There is more to swearing than routine offense-causing or a lack of linguistic hygiene. Language is a sophisticated toolkit and swearing is a useful component,” said Dr. Richard Stephens, Senior Lecturer in Psychology at Keele University, in an academic newsletter from The Conversation.
Uncouth it may be, swearing is associated with authenticity and honesty in real life as well as in fiction. In this case, curse away!
Feature image courtesy of Steemint