I hope you’re enjoying the summer so far – wherever you are! ☀️☀️☀️
? Podcast #23:
PROFANITY: TALKING TABOO with linguistics professor Darin Flynn
Not sure if you’re like me… I hadn’t thought about profanity much. I do swear on occasion, but not frequently. And I am careful with whom. Well, my views on profanity have changed significantly, thanks to University of Calgary linguistics professor Darin Flynn.
First things first: there are two versions of this podcast:
FYI – This Blog and the Podcast Shownotes are clean.
Of course, if these words personally offend you or if there are young ears around, you should listen to the CLEAN version. Otherwise, I recommend that you listen to the explicit version for two reasons:
- Our guest expert, Professor Darin Flynn, is not at all gratuitous with the profanity. In fact, there are some words that he refuses to say, as you will hear.
- It’ll be much easier to follow along if you listen to the explicit version, since you will hear what words we are talking about.
I was a bit nervous about this episode. The topic of profanity is “taboo,” after-all, right? When I mentioned that I was planning this episode to a few respected friends and colleagues, I heard two distinct responses:
- “AWESOME! Can’t wait to hear it and learn about profanity!”
- “YIKES! Really? You’re going to edit the swears out, right?”
Well, it turns out this is to be expected. Openness to profanity is correlated with certain personality traits – more on this below!
After interviewing Professor Darin Flynn, my nervousness shifted to excitement. I couldn’t wait to get this episode released. Darin is easy-going, undeniably friendly, and extremely knowledgeable about profanity, and language in general.
Thank you, Darin!
PROFANITY – Did you know?
A Few Myths About Swearing:
- “People swear because they don’t have a large vocabulary.” In fact, as Darin says, “People that have the most swears also have the most vocabulary and they are more highly verbal.”
- “People who use profanity are cursing God,” invoking the devil. Also typically not true.
Swearing & Personalities
Of course there are exceptions, but research shows that sweariness (I ❤️ that word) is correlated with extroversion, with riskiness, with dominance, with being disagreeable and non-conformity….
Swearing is Risky
Darin mentioned that swearing can be risky. Swearing can break the ice. Make people relax a bit. But it can also be risky. It’s like using metaphors or similes or hyperbole. It is expressive but risky.
The Worst Swears
This is my favourite point from the whole podcast. Darin mentioned a few times that these days, the most profane, the most offensive words in the English language are the ones that are derogatory to minorities. In fact, those are the profanities that Darin himself refuses to say. Think about that for a moment. Isn’t that just wonderful? We now live in a society where the worst possible things you can say, the most profane expressions, are derogatory towards minorities? I love that. ❤️
“Sticks & stones will break my bones….”
Darin recommended that I watch this 24 second video of two guys giving each other the finger – and now I recommend that you do the same. Darin says, “It’s the most intense thing I have ever seen. Nothing, nothing happens. It’s a nice example of how (swearing) can be a substitute for fighting.” Enjoy!
As always, I encourage you to forward this email or send this link to your friends and colleagues who may also be interested in learning about how to become more confident communicators.
THANK YOU !
Dr. Andrea Wojnicki
Founder & Chief Talker – Talk About Talk Inc.
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