Swearing can sometimes seem impossible to avoid, especially after stubbing a toe or discovering a parking ticket.
But for those times when swearing isn’t an option, such as at work or when you’re in charge of a small child, psychologists may be able to help with some alternatives.
A new study suggests that saying “sugar” instead of the rougher alternative sounds less like a swear word, as does blighter instead of b*gger.
British people have the right idea when they talk about someone getting a ‘rollicking’ instead of the word that rhymes with it – ab******ing.
Discovery: A new study suggests that saying “sugar” instead of the rougher alternative sounds less like a swear word, like blighter instead of b*gger
Parents of young children might call someone they don’t like a “bar steward” instead of a “b*****d.”
And if someone is really furious, the word “frigging” might sound nice and innocent.
The theory behind these alternative swear words comes from a study led by Royal Holloway, University of London.
Researchers presented 215 people, each speaking one of six languages, with 80 pairs of made-up words and asked them what the swear word was.
- S**t – Sugar
- B******ing – Exciting
- B*****d – Bar Steward
- F***ing – damn
- Shut the f*** up – Close the front door
- C**k ups – Colk ups
They found that words with four golden sounds — an “r,” “l,” “w,” and “y” sound — were not considered swear words in nearly two-thirds of cases.
These soft-sounding letters were found more than twice as often in words used to replace swear words, such as “sugar,” compared to the original swear words.
Dr. Shiri Lev-Ari, first author of the study from the Department of Psychology at Royal Holloway, said: “This helps us understand why replacement words such as frigging or fricking, which add an ‘r’ sound to a curse word, are more appropriate. for polite company.’
Professor Ryan McKay, senior author of the study, added: ‘Knowing that these replacements do not sound like swear words to humans and also contain soothing sounds, they could be useful.
“Perhaps these words are useful during an argument with your significant other, when dealing with an agitated child, or during a tense negotiation, because they sound much less aggressive and less emotional than the swear words from which they are derived.”
The study, published in the Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, recruited 215 native speakers of Arabic, Chinese, Finnish, French, German and Spanish.
The task given to these volunteers was called ‘How good is your swear word?’
People heard pairs of words, apparently from another language, but in fact made up.
Each pair contained one word with a neutral “ch,” “j,” or “ts” sound, which the researchers’ previous work showed was no more or less common in swear words than in other words.
The other word in each pair was almost identical, but contained a sound called “approach,” which is pronounced between a small gap in the mouth created by the lips, teeth, or tongue, and creates an “r,” “l,” ” w’ and ‘y’ sound.
The theory behind these alternative swear words comes from a study led by Royal Holloway, University of London (stock)
It was determined that these words were not the swear word 63 percent of the time.
It means that “shut the front door” is a good alternative to “shut up,” and parents of young children might want to describe mistakes as “colk-ups.”
The researchers analyzed 67 popular swear word substitutions, mostly from the Oxford English Dictionary.
They contain 29 approximations, compared to only 12 in the original swear words.
The findings suggest that the word “fecking,” loved by the Irish and fans of the sitcom Father Ted, still sounds too crude and like a swear word.
But “forking,” as used in the sitcom The Good Place, because people can’t swear in heaven, works well — at least in an American accent.
Professor McKay said: ‘The exception to this rule about approaching seems like the grossest word in the universe according to The Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy – Belgium.’
USE OF COMMON GUILWORDS ‘DROPPED OVER A QUARTER SINCE THE 1990S’
The use of swear words by Britons has fallen by more than a quarter since the 1990s, according to a recent study.
The research also suggests that the word ‘f***’ has overtaken ‘b***dy’ as the most popular swear word in the UK.
It compared the use of 16 of the country’s most common swear words, including p***, c*** and s**g, from the 1990s to the 2010s.
The use of swear words by Britons has fallen by more than a quarter since the 1990s, a study shows. Pictured above were the 16 most commonly used swear words by Britons in 1994 and 2014
In total, the number of swear words fell by 27.6 percent, from 1,822 words per million in 1994 to 1,320 words per million in 2014.
The study, conducted by Dr. Robbie Love of Aston University, researched how swearing has changed into common British English conversation over the past three decades.
Dr. Love used two large volumes of transcripts: the Spoken British National Corpus collected in 1994 and the same corpus from 2014.
Together, these comprise more than 15 million words, although swear words make up less than 1 percent.
The study found that the type of swear words used have changed over the years, with “b****y” being the most common in the 1990s and “f***” in the 2010s.
This is due to a large decline in the use of ‘b****y’, Dr Love found, while ‘f***’ has remained relatively stable.
It was the second most used swear word in 1994, followed by s**t, p***, b****r and c**p.
Twenty years later, b****r had dropped from fifth most common curse to ninth, while b*****d had dropped from seventh to tenth.
The big climbers are s**t, from third to second, a**e, from eighth to sixth, and d***, from tenth to seventh.
T**t also rose from 16th most common swear word in the 1990s to 13th in the 2010s