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Why a high profane vocabulary is consistent with a high general vocabulary

Article image for Why a high profane vocabulary is consistent with a high general vocabulary

Swearing around children may not be as bad as you think.

According to cognitive scientist Benjamin Bergen, cursing in front of children doesn’t harm them or stunt their vocabulary.

However, that isn’t to say words are harmless, especially if they are abusive.

‘Telling a child that he or she is worthless, or insulting or threatening, that can cause irreparable harm,’ Mr Bergen told Tom Elliott on Monday.

‘It doesn’t have to be swearing… it’s not the words per se, it’s the intention behind them.

‘Run-of-the-mill profanities haven’t ever been demonstrated to cause any harm to children.’

Moreover, children demonstrating a high profane vocabulary have been shown to have a higher vocabulary in general.

‘Probably because children who are most interested in language in general find interesting things to learn about it in all of its manifestations, including the profane,’ Mr Bergen said.

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