Increasing Usage Of Swear Words In Literature Proves The Rising Individualism In American Society

Saicharan Palakurthi

With the advent of 21st century, the usage of swear words has grown frequently. People spell swear words more in the casual conversations, be it casual talks or some official purposes.

Many surveys left some shocking impressions on the frequent usage of the swear words. Twenge, the author of the book, Generation Me has said, “The increases in swear words in books is part of a larger cultural trend toward individualism and free expression.”

In the recent study conducted by Twenge along with SDSU graduate student Hannah VanLandingham and University of Georgia psychologist W. Keith Campbell, they analyzed the textual content from tens of thousands of books published between 1950 and 2008, and that have been cataloged by the Google Books database.

And, within this corpus, they searched for instances of Carlin’s seven notorious words (which we won’t print here but are noted in the study, or can be easily found online).

Image result for swear words in american society

The results of this study indicated the rising trend of those words appearing in the books, the team reports in the journal SAGE Open. In total, American authors used the seven risqué words 28 times more often in the mid-2000s than the early 1950s.

Later Twenge added, “Forty-five years after George Carlin’s routine, you can say those words on television—and in books.”

However, the findings suggest that these words have become much less taboo over time, she said. One interpretation is that people today value free expression more than they did several decades ago. That dovetails with previous research which has found that American society is becoming increasingly individualistic. That characteristic is especially prominent in young people, Twenge said comparing the life styles during both the eras.

“Millennials have a ‘come as you are’ philosophy, and this study shows one of the ways they got it: The culture has shifted toward more free self-expression,” she concluded.

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