ALS 2020 is pleased to host a public talk by Professor Kate Burridge (Monash University). This presentation will be open to the public and will take place on Sunday 13 December at 6pm (Sydney time), via Zoom. Details will be shared on this page in the next few weeks.
What’s good about bad language?
Many think that swearing is a sign of verbal deficiency — people resort to cuss words when they have no other words at their disposal. And yet there is no research suggesting this link, and nothing to support the branding of swearers as “ignorant”, “lazy” or “stupid”. Swearwords are socially and emotionally indispensable, vital parts of our linguistic repertoires that help us mitigate stress, cope with pain, increase strength and endurance and bond with friends and colleagues — it's not surprising the controversial little words are often described as “strong language”. These sociocultural and psychological benefits offer strong motivation that no doubt accounts for the consistent historical failure of legislation and penalties against swearing. We are not looking at just some "bad habit" that can be broken, like smoking cigarettes or nail-biting.