Is swearing good for you?

Ukrainian MP proposes law to stop public figures from swearing

Download Perspecs

Should swearing be banned?

By Daniel J. McLaughlin

Swearing, while unpleasant to some, are a part of our daily lives, whether we stub our toes, cut off by rude drivers, or generally want a vulgar rant.

However, in Ukraine, a politician wants to get rid of swearing in public.

Defenders of profanity dismiss her proposal, noting that uttering curses can actually be good for you.

The Claim

A Ukrainian MP has proposed a new law to stop public figures from swearing in the media, 112 Ukraine reports.

MP Olha Bohomolets wants to fine people swearing on TV, online, and in public speeches.

The proposal says that those who use obscenities on those platforms could be fined up to 1,275 Ukrainian hryvnias - the equivalent of £39 or $49.

They add that an alternative punishment could be 40 to 60 hours of community services for one to two months for citizens who violate the law.

The punishment could be more severe for public figures, who potentially face a higher fine up to £52 or $65.

The list of profanities that would be covered by the law would be approved by the Cabinet of Ministers in Ukraine.

The law on "countering foul language" is currently being examined by a parliamentary committee.

The Counterclaim

However, the proposal has been laughed off by acting health minister Ulana Suprun. She argues that swearing could be good for your health, according to the BBC.

Dr Suprun responded to the proposed law in a social media post, saying that uttering profanities can indicate strong relationships and "good emotional contact" between people.

She said that swearing can be useful in extreme situations, adding: "In a number of cases the use of swear words means that people are close to each other and there is a good emotional contact between them."

The acting health minister added that people should work on removing their feelings of aggression rather than their obscene language.

The Facts

While foul language may be frowned upon, and potentially even banned if Bohomolets has her way, there are benefits to uttering curses.

Profanities can help to reduce pain and lower stress levels. An experiment by Dr Richard Stephens, senior lecturer in psychology at Keele University, proved that swearing actually dulls pain.

He split his 67 students into two groups and put their hands in an icy cold bath: one group was allowed to swear, while the other was only allowed to use neutral words. The most popular words were "f--k" and "s--t".

It revealed that swearing the students’ pain threshold by almost 50 per cent.

Stephens told Men's Health: “Swearing triggers a well-known stress-induced analgesia. It’s part of the fight or flight response.

"Adrenaline is released, the heart pumps faster and we become more enabled to overcome an aggressor or make a swift getaway. Swearing helps many people better tolerate pain."

Studies have also shown that those with foul mouths are more articulate and have a larger vocabulary than their peers.

A recent study by US psychologists Kristin and Timothy Jay proved that taboo fluency - a posh way of describing swearing - signals verbal fluency.

Participants were asked to reel off as many swear words as possible within 66 seconds. Following their vulgar outburst, they were asked to calm down and do the same with a more pre-watershed topic, such as naming as many animals they could.

Those who knew the most swear words were more likely to name the most animals as well.

The researchers concluded: "Speakers who use taboo words understand their general expressive content as well as nuanced distinctions that must be drawn to use slurs appropriately.

"The ability to make nuanced distinctions indicates the presence of more rather than less linguistic knowledge."

Download Perspecs
Download Perspecs