And the award for most obscene title of a peer-reviewed scientific article goes to...

Illustration for article titled And the award for most obscene title of a peer-reviewed scientific article goes to...

Drumroll please... (hit the jump)

"‘Christ fucking shit merde!' Language preferences for swearing among maximally proficient multilinguals," published in the journal Sociolinguistic Studies. In lieu of an award speech, here's the abstract:

The present study investigates language preferences for swearing among two groups of multilinguals. The first group consisted of 386 adult multilinguals who filled out the Bilingualism and Emotion web based questionnaire (BEQ, Dewaele and Pavlenko, 2001–2003) and had declared that they were maximally proficient in their L1 and L2 and used both languages constantly. The second group consisted of 20 multilinguals with a similar sociobiographical profile who were interviewed about their language choice for the communication of emotion. A statistical analysis of the quantitative data revealed that despite similar levels of self-perceived proficiency and frequency of use in the L1 and L2, the L1 was used significantly more for swearing and L1 swearwords were perceived to have a stronger emotional resonance. An analysis of the quantitative data from the BEQ and the interview data confirmed the findings of the quantitative analysis while adding rich detail about the difficulties in deciding which language to choose for swearing.

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H/T Brian!

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DISCUSSION

Halada Of Eve

I am trilingual (French, English, German). French is my native tongue. I speak French and English as fluently as any native speaker would, and am fluent in German.

French is, by far, the best language to swear in. I believe there is even a scene in the Matrix 2 that covers this very topic, something about "wiping your ass with silk." If you are Québécois like I am, the possibilities are endless. Our swear words can be employed as nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs. They can be combined together in all these forms. This often leads to imaginative combinations that allow to express one's frustration more precisely and as it pertains to the moment in crystal clear fashion. However, in French Canada, swearing in French from France is considered a parody move. It sounds so gay when we swear in their accent that it provides no sense of relief whatsoever.

In English, I really like the word fuck. I only started learning English around age 9 when my father moved to Mississauga, Ontario. I was always amused at how easy people could get offended upon hearing a simple word like fuck. I used to spend my Summers at dad's and the other kids around the block would make fun of me because of my awful accent. This culminated into a humliating incident at the park in which a circle of kids was formed around me as they threw slurs such as "French faggot" or "French frog", begging me to go home (which I really wanted to do). I guess my awful accent was just too awful to pass up for them. And to be fair, it was.

I was determined to stand up to the bullies the next Summer and had prepared one phrase I had practiced and practiced and repeated ohhhh so many times ALL year. A phrase my stepsister (who lived with my remarried dad in Ontario) had written down for me, so I could say it perfectly at the next play date: "I'm going to fuck you up if you make fun of me again." Simple and VERY effective. I imagine this will depend on the neighborhood you grew up in, but my dad lived in an upper-middle-class area mostly populated by white religious kids. To them, fuck was an abberation. I remember once playing in the monkey bars yelling "FUCKITY FUCK FUCK, FUCKITY FUCK FUCK" just so I could upset the parents watching their kids. Completely immature of course, but right on par with the behavior of an 11 who has just learned the power of words, and in a new exciting language that awaits to be discovered.

The effect it had on the kids was absolutely hilarious now that I think back on it. They all froze and looked at me very seriously, as if I was an alien specimen. I wasn't that French faggoty frog anymore, I had just used the word fuck. Instant respect won. I was never bullied because of my accent again (which had noticeably improved over the previous summer though, which must have helped my cause).

On an unrelated but funny note, the first movie I remember seeing in English in the movie theater that I remember understanding was Star Trek First Contact at age 10, which I saw while I was in Florida visiting my grandparents. Maybe that's why I love sci-fi so much, in spite of the movie being awful? It was a happy moment.

German is a completely boring language to swear in despite all the funny Hitler rants video. There's no emotion or feeling to it, there's no passion in their curse words. It's really boring. Latin languages such as Italian, Portuguese and Spanish also have vivid vocabularies of curse words that can make for very enjoyable rants.