Which curse words are popular in your state?

darnmap

Credit: Jack Grieve

I found some interesting maps on the Huffington Post last night. They illustrate where certain curse words get the most use in the US (the lower 48 states). Not at all surprising to someone who lived there most of her life, the mild expletives “Darn” and “Gosh” are quite common in Oklahoma. So, too, is “crap.” Harsher language didn’t enter my life until I got away from home. (I didn’t even say “hell” or “damn” till I got to college, and even then, never when I was back home. To say I was sheltered and naive would be an understatement.

goshmap

Credit: Jack Grieve

 

Jack Grieve, a professor of forensic linguistics at Aston University in England, is the author/compiler of these maps and published them on Twitter on Thursday. The words used were gathered from Twitter between October 2013 and November 2014.

For maps of some of our more, er, colorful language (“bitch,” “shit,” “asshole,” and others) see the HuffPo article. And there are even more on Grieve’s Twitter feed. Do you use the language common in your state? Or are you a transplant resisting the evil influence? In my experience, people tend to adopt the language of those around them, almost unconsciously, as a way of fitting in. But maybe curse words are different, because there are several I very rarely use.

 



Categories: cursing, language

20 replies

  1. That is just weird. Some of it is obvious, but others are strange. In the UK, gosh isn’t regarded as swearing. And we have degrees, but also geographically defined sometimes. We have bloody and bugger too. Not included in the American hit list.

    I think we have a more casual approach though.

    • I never have understood exactly how strong a word “bloody” is supposed to be. It doesn’t sound particularly bad to me, but I’m sure the intent of the speaker has a lot to do with it. (I included only the mildest American words here, and you’re right, “gosh” really doesn’t even qualify. You can browse and escalate at your leisure.)

  2. Hmm . . . I think there is a difference between spoken swearing and written swearing . . . nothing scientific. mind you. It’s just that seeing swear words in writing always gets me mindful of the fact that’s a very deliberate thing. I take the above with a large grain of salt.

    Unless there is some real emotion behind the writing (something I seldom find) the swear words are thrown in there for effect and very deliberately. That’s not what I call swearing. I might call it “compensating” but that’s another story.

    I’ve written about my own swearing habits: http://dispersertracks.com/2010/10/13/i-swear/

    My deliberate swearing is typically very creative and multilingual. My involuntary swearing is pretty basic. My public swearing is practically non-existent.

    Pied Type, you might appreciate this experiment: http://dispersertracks.com/2013/03/31/we-must-do-something/

    • I swear very little unless suddenly surprised, hurt, scared, etc. Then it’s almost an involuntary thing. Most of the rest of the time I think it just demonstrates a lack of appropriate vocabulary (or manners, or both). I’m more accepting of it in speech (although barely) because with many people it’s just a bad habit and they don’t even think about it. In writing, I agree with you. It is necessarily deliberate and I think can only reflect poorly on the writer.

  3. Interesting to say the least, thanks for sharing…

    I think my only critical comment would be with regard to the published distribution of the word “asshole”. My state, Arkansas, is all but entirely dark blue and I know for a fact that there should at least be a smidgen of an ‘orange’ dot in the central part of the state just to account for me. I suspect I have at one time or another quite verbally referred to most of the locals for one reason or another as…., well you know! 🙂

  4. There are so many curse words I just wouldn’t use – but I expect that is because of my age!
    For some reason, I don’t hesitate to use the word ‘shit’, though it is mostly as a warning to the grand children not to step in it when they aren’t watching where they are walking…
    My daughter politely asked me not to say that word in front of the grands, but for some reason ‘poop’ or ‘feces’ just doesn’t sound right…

    • Sounds like me. I think much of it is age-related and the fact that we (I, anyway) was raised not to used such language. The old “wash your mouth out with soap” threat was ever present.

  5. I liked this, not only because it was well written, but because I swear incessantly,I won’t risk giving you my favourite swear -word, out of common decency, but it can be used as an adjective, noun, verb, etc. It is quite possibly the greatest word in the English language.

    • I suspect your favorite curse word is as popular as it is with you and so many others precisely because it is so versatile. Using it requires no thought whatsoever.

      • I beg to differ; the use of any word, in the proper context or situation, requires thought. Of some sort. Sometimes a word is used in the intention to offend; other times, it is merely a means of expressing one’s self in a manner that can be universally understood. Thank you for your comment.

  6. Golly, gosh, gee willickers – now that was interesting. 😀

  7. This was a fun one– had no idea my everyday conversations included so much cursing (dang, darn, gee, golly, gosh). I used to have quite a swearcabulary from a prior job, but these days, try to avoid soap except when special emphasis demands a ‘better’ word. Did notice my grandma’s favorite -pissant- was not part of the study 😉

  8. I live in Tempe,AZ. I am retired military with 22 yrs of service. Military men and women between the ages of 19-40 yrs of age pepper their speech with foul/curse words more often than than not more noticeably off duty than on duty. I have noticed that “angry people”(those with unresolved anger issues) are prone to use curse words more often than those who are not angry.The longer the issue/s go unresolved,the more frequent foul language is used. The most common words I hear “The 7 words by George Carlin you can’t say on TV. There are a lot of angry people in Phoenix AZ especially between the ages of 16 to 35. It is SAD.

    • Somehow it doesn’t surprise me that cursing is more common in the military. Part of a macho military mindset, perhaps? And yes, I can see how anger triggers a greater use of foul language. It is sad if you’ve noted a lot more cursing in AZ than elsewhere. More angry people? The heat? Certainly the summer heat would make me extremely angry/irritable. I would guess, too, that as a border state, AZ faces some difficult social issues that aren’t as prominent elsewhere.

  9. No,it is just not in AZ but all over. Unresolved anger is a primary factor,how ever an overall command of the English language and peoples lack of it runs a close second.Just look at where it is used and where it is not used.

"Opinion is the medium between knowledge and ignorance." ~ Plato

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