| 12.9°C Dublin

Don't worry if you drop the F-bomb, turns out you're more effin' honest if you swear a lot

Close

Stephen Fry said 'The sort of twee person who thinks swearing is in any way a sign of a lack of education or a lack of verbal interest is just a f***ing lunatic'

Stephen Fry said 'The sort of twee person who thinks swearing is in any way a sign of a lack of education or a lack of verbal interest is just a f***ing lunatic'

Stephen Fry said 'The sort of twee person who thinks swearing is in any way a sign of a lack of education or a lack of verbal interest is just a f***ing lunatic'

I knew it, I fecking knew it! Not only is swearing good for you, but using it the right way makes us more trustworthy. So put that in your effin' pipe and smoke it! According to a study published earlier this month, researchers found that the more we swear, the more honest we tend to be perceived.

The paper, cutely entitled, 'Frankly, we do give a damn: The relationship between profanity and honesty', found that people who use bad language are less likely to be associated with deception.

"The relationship between profanity and dishonesty is a tricky one," says Dr David Stillwell, a lecturer at the University of Cambridge, and a co-author on the paper. "Swearing is often inappropriate but it can also be evidence that someone is telling you their honest opinion. Just as they aren't filtering their language to be more palatable, they're also not filtering their views."

The researchers cite the example of US President Donald Trump, whose frequent use of profanity on the election trail made him appear more genuine than his rivals. His campaign promises to "bomb the s*** out of Isis", and open Chinese trade talks with "listen, you motherf*****s" certainly worked wonders with an electorate hungry for plain talking.

In the politics of 2017, profanity clearly equals authenticity. Does this mean we can expect to see an expletive-laden Enda Kenny shrug off the shackles of social propriety one of these days, or Micheál Martin mill it with maledictions across the House? I certainly flippin' hope so.

"If you're trying to follow the social norms rather than saying what you think, you are saying what people want to hear," says Dr Stillwell. "In that respect, you are not being very honest."

Our appreciation of honesty in public life has definite links with obscenity, as seen last year when Chelmsford judge Patricia Lynch efficiently dealt with a racist offender who did a Nazi salute from the dock and called her "a bit of a c***".

Passing sentence, she calmly responded: "You're a bit of a c*** yourself."

Bravo, ma'am. Later today, when you take a tumble off your bike, bang your thumb with a hammer or drop the groceries in the car park, it's likely you'll drop the F-bomb as an automatic response.

Don't worry, be happy about it. Richard Stephens, senior lecturer in psychology at Keele University and author of 'Black Sheep: The Hidden Benefits of Being Bad', says such behaviour is part of 'a 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 us better tolerate pain."

In a college experiment, students who repeated a curse word were able to keep their hand in a bucket of ice water longer than those who uttered a neutral word.

Of course, we Irish have cornered the market in cussing, we're world leaders in the gleeful art of fulmination. Some ascribe this to Roddy Doyle, others lay it at the door of 'Love/Hate' . . . personally I blame the Irish Mammy.

In a constant battle of one-upmanship, women are highly skilled at invoking sainted symbols to win a point. The exclamation "Jesus!" from one is quickly trumped by "Jesus, Mary and Joseph!" from her companion. But both are eclipsed by "Sweet Mother of Divine Christ!" - uttered with that maternal whisper of awe and derision. Little wonder us tots listening intently in our prams get an early grounding from the apron strings.

Mind you, when it comes to turning the air blue, nobody beats 'The Sopranos' - 7,037 blasphemies across 85 episodes - that's effin' serious, that is.

Stephen Fry advises us to ignore those who maintain cursing is evidence of a deficient vocabulary.

"The sort of twee person who thinks swearing is in any way a sign of a lack of education or a lack of verbal interest is just a f***ing lunatic," he says.

In pretty much every country across the world, being Irish yields an instant affinity few other nationalities enjoy, much of which comes from our clever use of oaths and obscenities to build bridges across cultural divides.

Swearing delivered in our uniquely poetic style promotes a global comradeship that is exclusively ours.

After all, what race from Azerbaijan to Zimbabwe can resist: "Jaysus, lads, what an effin' day.

"Are we going for an effin' pint or what?"

Irish Independent