"Love follows knowledge."
"Beauty above all beauty!"
– St. Catherine of Siena

Sunday, August 2, 2015

On Language: Swear Words across America

OK, this is a strange post for two reasons.  One it involves words people shouldn’t say and it involves recent technology.

Can you believe there is a blog dedicated to swear and otherwise naughty words?  In this world where the virtual is more current than the real there is a blog titled, Strong Language: A Sweary Blog AboutSwearing,  The “About” dedicates the blog to “Linguists, lexicographers, and word nerds who like vulgarities.”  It goes on to say:

If vulgar language offends you, then thank you. You’re one of the people who help maintain the effectiveness of vulgarities. You will very likely be offended by the articles in this blog.
If vulgar language interests or entertains you, or is a constant source of solace or release, and if you like language in general, then come on in.
This blog gives a place for professional language geeks to talk about things they can’t talk about in more polite contexts. It’s a sweary blog about swearing.

LOL, now being that I grew up in the gutters of Brooklyn, NY, and have been well trained in the artful use of cussing words, I rather enjoyed the blog.  It might not be your thing, but feel free to peruse it if it interests you.

Now the reason I came to that blog was from a link that highlighted a recent post on the swear trends across the UnitedStates

Swearing varies a lot from place to place, even within the same country, in the same language. But how do we know who swears what, where, in the big picture? We turn to data – damn big data. With great computing power comes great cartography.
Jack Grieve, lecturer in forensic linguistics at Aston University in Birmingham, UK, has created a detailed set of maps of the US showing strong regional patterns of swearing preferences. The maps are based on an 8.9-billion-word corpus of geo-coded tweets collected by Diansheng Guo in 2013–14 and funded by Digging into Data.

So basically what the researcher did was tabulate the frequency of certain swear words by location using Twitter tweets. 

Interestingly enough, the ubiquitous four letter word that starts with “f”—you know what word I mean—seems to be more widely used on the two coasts of the country and less so in the middle.  That actually doesn’t surprise me.  I have not found it as frequent in the Midwest, but I am surprised that Californians use it as much as New Yorkers. 

Interestingly the “A-H” word—that word that is used inside cars for other drivers—is not in frequent use in the South, but as typical here in the Northeast, we love it.

But the South does use the “B” word way more than everywhere else in the country.  And not surprising they also use “damn” more frequently.  The Midwest did register high on the scale for “darn” and “gosh.”  You guys are such goody-too-shoes. 

There’s more and it’s a fascinating read, especially if you have traveled about the country and listened to linguistic diction.  Now I don’t know if the tweets are representative of oral speech trends, but it is an approach to mapping speech patterns.  


  1. What a fun post! I'll have to check out the blog, although cursing in and of itself is boring. That does not, however, stop me from letting loose!

  2. I never b***** swear. I'm always frogging polite. This morning when I hit my finger with the hammer instead of the nail I said "Jolly Gosh ... that was a tad uncomfortable!"

    God bless.

    P.S. Thanx for your support of my books.