Talk About Talk - Communication Skills Training

Talk About Talk - Communication Skills Training

#23(S2) explicit – PROFANITY: TALKING TABOO with linguistics professor Darin Flynn

July 18, 2019

(EXPLICIT) Do you ever wonder why some people use profanity and others do not? Linguistics professor Darin Flynn leads us through a fascinating discussion on the taboo topic of swearing, including types of swear-words, how swear words change over time, personality types that are more likely to use profanity, and the risks associated with profanity. (Note this is the EXPLICIT version of this podcast episode. There is also a CLEAN (bleeped out) version).

* Key Learnings
* References & Links
* Andrea’s Commentary
* Interview Transcript
* Conclusion

Key Learnings
Myths About Swearing
People have a lot of misconceptions about swearing.  For example:

* 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 – they are cursing God, invoking the devil. Also not true.

Swearing & Personalities
Of course there are exceptions, but research shows that sweariness (I LOVE that word) is correlated with extroversion, with riskiness, with dominance, with being disagreeable and non-conformity.  So people who swear might be extroverted, risk-seeking, dominant, disagree-able non-conformists.
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
I think this is my favourite point from the whole interview.  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.  It makes me feel optimistic.

References & Links
Professor Darin Flynn

* University of Calgary faculty page –
* “Shift Happens” interview –
* “White people should never rap the n-word: A linguist breaks it down“-
* “What the &*$%?: What qualifies as a “bad” word nowadays?” –

Profanity Resources & References

* “What the F” by Benjamin Bergen –
* “The Stuff of Thought” by Steven Pinker –
* “Why We Curse” by Timothy Jay –
* “Cursing in America” by Timothy Jay –

 Articles & other:

* Youtube video of two guys giving each other the finger –
* George Carlin’s – 7 Words you can’t say on TV –