Upon hearing the news that most toddlers learn to say at least one obscene word before they even know the alphabet, your reaction might be something along the lines of, “What the ****?”
But according to language expert, Dr. Mellissa Mohr, we must resist the urge to let loose a regular barrage of expletives as it is our potty mouths that are passing on a litany of obscenity to the younger generation.
In Holy Sh*t: A Brief History of Swearing, Stanford University’s Dr Mohr argues that English speaking people swear around once in every 140 words, explaining why most children know at least one naughty word before the age of two.
This can then lead to a snowballing swearword arsenal, which “really kicks off” around ages three and four.
Mohr’s research also led her to conclude that we let rip with a curse as often as we use plural pronouns like “us”, “we” and “our”.
We know what your thinking – “Flipping heck, that’s a lot of swearing!”
But, while we certainly don’t want our toddler’s running around dropping verbal bombs like mini Malcolm Tuckers, according to researchers there are some uses for well-placed profanity.
“They definitely are the best words that you can use to insult people, because they are much better than other words at getting at people’s emotions,” explains Mohr.
She also reasons that obscenities are words are useful if you hit your finger with a hammer, helping you cope with the pain.
Not that we recommend you start including episodes of South Park in your child’s educational viewing – that would just be b****y foolish.