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Minkseru

Do you think cussing affects a person's vocabulary

43 posts in this topic

Ok this may be a touch of an explosive topic for some people, but I am curious. Some of you may have heard the statement "every time you cuss you lose %% of your vocabulary". Now I think it may be a bit preposterous sounding.

This however is what I have heard on both sides of this argument.

Pros:

"It adds emphasis to my statement!"

"It makes me sound impressive"

"Everyone cusses now a days, so it doesn't hurt anything."

"I can get my point across better with it!"

Cons:

"Makes my point get misread!"

"No one takes you seriously!"

"That language is foul!"

"Makes you sound stupid!"

My persona experience has shown me people tend to use less and less of their vocabulary as they replace the words they once used with cuss words to "emphasize" their point.

My point being stated begin.

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I'm of the mindset that cursing isn't really necessary, except for when it is. Using a curse every other word is silly. And yeah, when you do it like that, it tends to dumb down your language. Besides, there are much more interesting words in the English language.

It can be used effectively to portray an extreme emotion (anger, sadness, etc). Personally, I don't curse unless I'm really emotional about something.

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I don't think it effects the person vocabulary, unless you went from someone who speaks fluently formally and respectfully to someone that just swears every second word, then maybe yes.

But again it all depends on the situation, for example you wouldn't speak to someone like your professor and swear at the same time. I personally "cuss" when I talk to my friends about random stuff or whatever, when I'm serious I wouldn't swear unless it is really needed to be added.

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I rarely cuss myself, but when it slips into an extreme emotion people just stare at me. Every language has far more expressive more to any situation I have found, and am finding while working on learning japanese.

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I swear like a sailor in person regardless of how I'm feeling, but in my typing I usually forego it, haha. If I'm venting to a friend, it'll be littered with swears.

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While at the library I don't swear, not that I do a lot of talking outside of random customer support. When I was in the military I'd swear around my peers, but never around higher ranking folk, nor in any official capacity like email or mission chat. My Facebook is similarly a bit light on foul language since I have family members on there and I usually don't talk much on there anyway, barring my NaNo chatter. And of course I keep my language appropriate around children because I think it's more sad than amusing to hear a little kid drop an F-bomb.

You really shouldn't need to swear to get your point across. It's certainly appropriate if you're being chased by a lion or if you stub your toe (I read once that swearing lessens the pain as opposed to saying nothing at all or saying a non-swear like "monkeys"). Conversely, unless every other word that comes out of a person's mouth (literal or textual) is cussing, it doesn't really have any bearing on what I think of their vocabulary or intelligence. It might make me wonder about their manners and sense of appropriateness, but that's a separate matter entirely, haha.

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I can't really say much about myself. Thou, Minkseru is definitely right that he rarely swears. In fact, when he does it startles me because I almost never hear him say things like that. Me on the other hand...I used to "swear like a sailor" I've calmed down on it, especially since Sakura was born. Thou I swear the most when I'm upset or hurt. Don't know why but I feel like I've put my point across a lot more...even if it is only to myself. LOL

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i tend to swear a lot; for me and i am sure for a lot of people "fuck" and "shit" are word parasites; not to misunderstand tho, i don't swear to the point of it coming up in every other word and i tend not to use other swear words much, and it also depends on the environment i am in...same can be said for everyone, everyone wears masks daily be it a "professional mask" for business meaning the way you act and speak around your employer and coworkers, or be it a mask you wear around friends where you can let loose vocabulary and acting wise, and of course i guess another one would be if you still live with your parents then im sure you wouldn't be swearing much in your regular conversation with them for the sake of respect at least, although that depends as some parents are "cool" with it. So i would't say it destroys your vocabulary as long as you are aware of your environment, limitations and expectations.

But then again that's just my opinion on the matter.

...and pardon me being explicit up there

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I never swear... Like never ever. It might sound cliche, but I was brought up to not do it by my parents, and I want to honor my parents wishes.

I will admit, it can be frustrating when there's times where you can't get a point across. I know some people might not take you seriously if you don't swear, and won't until you do.

But to your point. Wait... If what you said is true... I SHOULD BE AN AMAZING SPEAKER!!! That's obviously not the case lol. I don't really use fancy vocabulary. I'm a down to earth person!

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I'm not really sure how to phrase this without coming across as condemning of expanding one's vocabulary, so I will say now that I'm a proponent of people learning new words. That said, I'm also a proponent of people using the dictionary to check the meaning of the words they're using. Read with a pencil, write with a dictionary--that's what one of my favourite English teachers always told us.

It is important to choose your words carefully to properly convey what you mean, but sometimes I'll see these lists floating around Tumblr and the like of words no one uses any more, or alternatives for the word "said", or for different colours and emotions. The problem with these lists is there is no regard given to the meaning of the words. In the article I linked, there is a preface indicating the folly in thinking that "said" is a bad word, but the Tumblr lists don't come with this warning. Thesaurus abuse can be just as obtrusive as inappropriate swearing when people don't give any thought to the meaning of the words they use.

Take, for example, the word "mad". People will list words like "irritated", "annoyed", "pissed off", "agitated", "irate", "incensed", "furious", ad infinitum as synonyms, to say nothing of its other meaning. But each word has a slightly different meaning and indicates varying levels to different people--I would rate "annoyed" as being lower on the totem pole than "irritated", but others may not agree. To put it another way, one of the reasons people tend to suggest being careful with "word replacements" is because people aren't always aware of the subjectivity of the words they use, of the different automatic images they conjure in people's heads.

So if one considers "fancy language" the opposite of swearing profusely, you're still going to run into problems with how people perceive you. And it's very possible that people may still consider you to be less intelligent than you are because it looks like you're trying too hard to impress others.

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Well I myself have always found solitude around "cuss" or curse words. For those who will say what they will about them, be it positive or negative, I couldn't give three fucks and two shits about your damned opinoin. Words were men't to be said, whoever wants to take them out of context and feel insulted can go fuck a horse dick because that is the most childish form of idiocracy.

It's even worse when some one takes a word that isn't a curse or offencive at all, gives it a whole new meaning. I.E. the word retarded. The fact that no one calls these people retarded any more, and just calls them "special"- just because the dead beats of our generation thought it as an insulte when they call it to one another, is a bigger insult then calling some one retarded. So a large portion of it is actually how people visualize these words. What society and modern media say is and is not apropriate to say.

All in all, it's just a bunch of dick-wads and douche-bags trying to get a kick out of words that mean nothing. So I say those with the idealism of "If you cuss you'll get stupiderestererer" are just smart-asses trying to sound smarter. Curse as much as you want, there's no one in the united states that can LEGALY stop you.

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Words are words! Knowing more words will - obviously - increase your vocabulary. It doesn't matter whether they're a curse word or not! People lose vocabulary when they forget words, so if someone swears a whole lot instead of finding the right words to match what they want to say, that may affect their vocabulary. But again, a curse word isn't some evil think that rots the brain cells, it's just a word, so similarly if someone uses any word excessively in place of other words it can also affect their vocabulary.

Personally, I know my vocabulary is still quite limited - I also tend to swear from time to time, but I don't think my vocabulary will grow or shrink depending on if I cuss.

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This is my theory on this:

Reliance on ANY word solely to carry certain meaning restricts your vocabulary. In the most... would you call it "ideal"?... situation everybody would have instant mental access to the entirety of the English language with look-up and definition capabilities like a thesaurus. In this "ideal" case, everyone would have access to tens if not hundreds of different ways to express a single thought. However, this is not the case. People can't memorize every word there is, nor do they have perfect thesaurus-like abilities to mix and match the right words into their sentences. Therefore, people restrict their "useful" vocabulary to a small subset of words in the English language. These words are the words that the person has deemed most useful for describing certain situations. Don't mistake the useful subset for the person's actual vocabulary. I doubt that many people daily make use of their entire repertoire of words. Thus, whenever the need to express a thought occurs, the person will first access their "useful" vocabulary set and see if there are any words in there which will adequately describe their thought. This access is very fast, and normally, a person will try to use these words whenever possible even if the word doesn't fit perfectly. If no word in the "useful" set matches their thought, they may move on to check the rest of their vocabulary or will break down their thought into smaller pieces and attempt to find a subset of the "useful" set that will describe what they're thinking.

The size of a person's "useful" set of words is used as a rough estimate for a person's intelligence. A person who can utilize a very large "useful" set of words should be able to keep several words that describe very specific circumstances very well. The ability to know and use those very specific words correctly is associated with intelligence. On the other hand, a person who only has access to a small "useful" set of words must rely on more vague words that fit a larger set of circumstances. Their "useful" set just doesn't have enough room to handle very specific words because if their set were filled with only very specific words they would have a very hard time communicating about a large range of thoughts.

Most vulgar words are applicable to a very wide range of circumstances. Society has also deemed these words as "bad" and therefore associates the "bad" tag with anyone who uses the words. So, people using vulgar words are assumed to be bad people who have a small "useful" vocabulary. However, there are many other words which have the same effect of "shrinking" people's vocabulary. The word 'thing' is a nearly universal noun that can be used to describe almost anything (hehe). Overuse of the word 'thing' also implies a small "useful" vocabulary because the person is assumed to not know more specific words to describe the thing they're talking about. Basically, any vague word that applies to a wide range of circumstances will "shrink" your vocabulary according to society.

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I agree with AOD with that it does depend on the situation. Cussing can affect a person's vocabulary if the do it so often that it becomes a habit, but in no ways do I think that it shrinks your vocabulary, it just causes you to prefer to cuss rather use the proper words but you will use the proper words sometime.

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"I swear... When it's appropriate"

"Simon, the whole point of swearin is that it ain't appropriate."

I believe that, as long as you aren't walking around talking like you're rehearsing to be a backup "singer" in a rap video, your vocabulary is probably safe.

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I personally find it annoying when people use the term "cuss" rather than "curse" (or, more accurately, "swear"). It comes across as incredibly childish/boorish/puritanical.


 


How on earth do you expect to be taken seriously if you use baby words?


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The word "cuss" isn't so much puerile as it is simply a colloquialism. To each their own, though.


 


And to read certain word usage as simultaneously puritanical ("practicing or affecting strict religious or moral behavior") and boorish ("ill-mannered and coarse and contemptible in behavior or appearance") seems contradictory. Either they are unnecessarily coarse or they are unnecessarily uptight, but usually not both. I think that kind of thing is generally played for laughs and saddening moments of hypocrisy. ("Oh my word, Esther, I just want to jam a broomstick up his uptight fucking patootie!")


 


But yes, failing to use proper terminology, especially if one is unwilling to say words like "vagina" and "penis" in medical cases, may encounter communication problems. ("I have a problem with my, you know... special area." Or better, "My wee-wee hurts bad.") But if someone chooses not to drop the F-bomb or other such words and instead replaces them with words like "fudge" and "cheese and crackers", I don't think that's such a bad thing. The only thing that tells me about a person is they simply don't swear.


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I personally find it annoying when people use the term "cuss" rather than "curse" (or, more accurately, "swear"). It comes across as incredibly childish/boorish/puritanical.

 

How on earth do you expect to be taken seriously if you use baby words?

I used the word "cussing" because down where I am from that is the term commonly used.  Just like saying soda instead of pop.  It seems a bit more silly to me thinking the use of the word as a choice of avoiding the subject.  I never hear anyone use the word swearing or cursing.  So the word I used was cussing.

I personally think that a use of words reflect partly where you are from.  I will agree that words do get commonly avoided in everyday situations.  One of my friends say "ah shitake!" when she gets annoyed, I think it is kind of interesting the words that gets termed as vulgar, because they seem to change every so often.  As for myself I have been caught every now and again saying "bloody h'ell!" (the ' after the h was intentional.)

Though my curiosity to you eelric is why you thinking cursing or swearing is more accurate?

The biggest difference is cuss is a bit more informal.  In this case I would use the word as being a bit more accurate.

As for being boorish or puritanical. 

It may be a bit more crude then the words curse or swear, but has nothing to do with my religious or moral standing. 

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I personally find it annoying when people use the term "cuss" rather than "curse" (or, more accurately, "swear"). It comes across as incredibly childish/boorish/puritanical.

 

How on earth do you expect to be taken seriously if you use baby words?

 

That I must agree with.  Most words vary on where, when, and how you were raised.  In my case, I was raised hearing the words "swear" & "curse".  I'd never heard the word "cuss" til after I had entered high school.  Also I was raised in a house where swearing is second nature. 

 

@ Eelric - I think you are wrong to judge someone on the terms they used.  Some people were raised in different ways and heard different versions of words.  Like "potato" and "Tater" or "tomato" and "mater". Or as he said...soda and pop. The words and terms really do depend on where, when, and how you are raised.  You have no right to say someone is childish/boorish/puritanical because of how they were raised.  Judging someone makes you sound ignorant about others. 

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I think perhaps swearing can help act as a sort of release if a person is extremely angered or something like that, but people (especially younger people) who swear purely for the sake of it annoy me so much.


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Here's an article from Time on the potential that swearing increases pain tolerance (I mentioned it in my first post here). According to Steven Pinker (I read one of his books, The Language Instinct), we're pretty much hardwired to swear under duress.


 


Why does it bother you if people swear purely for the sake it? How does it affect your view of them? Do think they're more immature? Do you think they're just not old enough to use certain words?


 


And don't get me wrong, I don't like it much when little kids swear either. I'm just trying to coax a little more out of you, to get you to elaborate on your position. =>


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