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Question of the day (and a little MJM story)

Wednesday, Jan 27, 2021

* CNN

Well-educated people with plenty of words at their disposal, a 2015 study found, were better at coming up with curse words than those who were less verbally fluent. […]

Science has also found a positive link between profanity and honesty. People who cursed lied less on an interpersonal level, and had higher levels of integrity overall, a series of three studies published in 2017 found. […]

Science has also found a positive link between profanity and honesty. People who cursed lied less on an interpersonal level, and had higher levels of integrity overall, a series of three studies published in 2017 found. […]

Profanity improves pain tolerance […]

Swearing appears to be centered in the right side of the brain, the part people often call the “creative brain.” […]

Why do we choose to swear? Perhaps because profanity provides an evolutionary advantage that can protect us from physical harm, Jay said.

I am the son of a son of a (Teamsters) truck driver. People who know me know that I’m quite prolific with swear words. I swear literally all the time. And I use that to my advantage in my job. I know exactly when somebody is comfortable talking to me when they casually drop an F-bomb in conversation.

I don’t allow those bad words here partially for business reasons and partially because my mom reads this blog and partially because I want people to elevate themselves. I don’t use those words in the subscriber edition, either.

OK, I did twice. Both were quotes from Speaker Madigan.

The first time was when Richard M. Daley was mayor and hizzoner was trying to pull off some stunt late in the session. Rick Pearson caught Madigan as he was entering the rear of the chamber and asked him what the mayor was up to. Madigan said something like “I have no f-ing clue.” I quoted him directly and caught a bit of flak for doing it.

Years later, Madigan took me aside one evening and said he wanted to make clear that he wasn’t, um, f-ing with the governor (I think it was Pat Quinn) on a specific thing (no recollection of what) and he asked me if I would write that to send the governor a message. I laughed, walked away and didn’t end up using the quote. The next time he saw me he asked what happened to his quote. I said I thought he was joking. He said he was serious and wanted me to use the exact quote, and then he repeated it. So I did the next morning. About half my subscriber emails bounced back because of the egregious word and I was told later that Mrs. Madigan scolded the Speaker for his vulgarity.

Heh.

* The Question: Without, of course, using any actual examples here, how often do you swear?

- Posted by Rich Miller        

92 Comments
  1. - Bruce( no not him) - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 3:18 pm:

    I saw the same article and forwarded it to my kids with the comment “f’ yeah”


  2. - Curious citizen - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 3:20 pm:

    I swear multiple times a day. It’s great therapy!


  3. - SouthSde Markie - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 3:23 pm:

    I swear like a good Democratic voter in Chicago. Early and often.


  4. - Downstate Dem - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 3:23 pm:

    Almost never. I was on radio and taught in the public school system for many years and did not want to slip. However, now, if I do, people really pay attention. I don’t pay attention to people who swear all the time. Contrary to the studies, I just think they do not have the vocabulary to use better words.


  5. - don the legend - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 3:24 pm:

    Quite a bit in in casual conversation. Almost never in professional situations.


  6. - 47th Ward - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 3:25 pm:

    Occasionally at home, constantly while driving.


  7. - NotRich - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 3:27 pm:

    every time I read CapFax


  8. - Perrid - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 3:27 pm:

    All the time. I literally don’t notice most of the time, which has (very occasionally) got me in a little bit of trouble. I think mostly f-bombs, dangs, shoots, and m-fers, in that order.

    And I’m pretty sure it doesn’t mean I’m smart, but I think I agree with the honesty bit. Don’t have time or energy to play games. I try not to outright curse AT people but I will absolutely curse about them/events.


  9. - TheInvisibleMan - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 3:27 pm:

    Are we talking Carlins 7 dirty words swearing, or the blue haired church lady definition of swearing.


  10. - Dan Vock - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 3:27 pm:

    I swear more often than I should. I don’t usually use those words in stories, but, for a couple of magazine stories, quotes with swears in them really packed a punch.

    Back when I covered the Illinois legislature, Jack Franks got in trouble for insulting Lee Daniels’ anatomy. But he did it in a way that people didn’t pick up on it for a while. So the next day, a whole bunch of Republican legislators objected to the comment and wanted it stricken from the record. In all the commotion, Madigan was caught on an open mic saying something to the effect of, “Who needs all of this bull…?”

    Streisand effect aside, I think Franks’ comment was eventually stricken from the record.


  11. - MSIX - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 3:30 pm:

    =Occasionally at home, constantly while driving.=

    +1


  12. - dbk - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 3:30 pm:

    Uh, pretty gosh-darn often, but (a) only to myself or (b) in select company.


  13. - Nuclear Bozo - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 3:30 pm:

    Daily when some emphasis is needed, but I try to avoid it at work. Don’t always succeed.


  14. - The Real Captain - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 3:33 pm:

    Constantly. I thought the second Madigan quote was in reference to Blagojevich but we are all getting older so who really remembers.


  15. - twowaystreet - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 3:33 pm:

    All the time. My mom finally stopped scolding me for it when I met a woman that she thoroughly enjoys as well. My mom realized she swore more than I did and somehow that made my mom more okay with it.

    I did get pulled aside at a “work” event in my early 20s, by a colleague who was 10-15 years older, who told me that I needed to swear less and it made me look unprofessional. He said it turned people off.

    I didn’t really take his advice to heart.


  16. - Michelle Flaherty - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 3:34 pm:

    It starts when I open the subscriber edition and then just about every time there’s a new post.


  17. - Peoples Republic of Oak Park - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 3:35 pm:

    No quite Eminem but definitely not Will Smith.


  18. - Frank talks - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 3:35 pm:

    Too much I think


  19. - RNUG - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 3:36 pm:

    When I’m working on my classic cars, quite a bit.

    The rest of the time, not much …


  20. - Ambrose Chase - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 3:37 pm:

    I try not to in my day to day life, but my wife tells me I swear prolifically when I talk in my sleep.


  21. - 62629 - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 3:37 pm:

    probably more than I should and I’m ok with that


  22. - Grandson of Man - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 3:38 pm:

    Very often. It’s a natural part of my communication, swearing as a manner of speaking rather than doing it just to express negative emotions.

    One of the best examples of swearing, though done in anger and certainly not professionally acceptable, was the Lee Elia rant. It had such a great flow, so prolific with “f” bombs. He was so in the “zone.”


  23. - Bruce( no not him) - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 3:38 pm:

    To the actual question.. somewhere between all the time and way too much.


  24. - Brad Cross for Speaker - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 3:39 pm:

    Every other sentence


  25. - Downstate - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 3:40 pm:

    I only use a curse word in the course of telling a humorous story. Of course I can only recall my father using a curse word maybe twice in his life.

    I used the “H” word in telling a story to a nun and my mother. And I got them both to laugh. Here it is…..

    Two nuns were traveling by car when suddenly a vampire jumped on the hood. One nun turned to the other and said, “Show him your Cross!”. The other nun leaned out the window and yelled, “Get the H#ll off our car.”


  26. - Abdon - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 3:40 pm:

    Only when I breathe. My sons used to think “Editor” was the 2nd half of a compound word.


  27. - One Opinion - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 3:41 pm:

    never…not one f****** time


  28. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 3:41 pm:

    My rule to the written; unless absolutely necessary (and it’s rare when that is) I do not type or write swear words, even in a causal text, email, etc. there are always ways to convey especially when the intertubes and emails are forever.

    I have been around some world class users of profanity, geniuses in the medium, even better when they were around those they are/were most comfortable.

    Yes, a measure of comfort measures on how world class they spoke in company.

    Yep. I swear.

    Not “Wolf of Wall Street” or “Goodfellas” level but I can get a good froth goin’

    Probably hedge more, not out of caution to my audience or comfortability with them. Hedge to stay in my own control to what I want heard, afraid my swearing could be taken less serious to the thought I want heard, nothing more.


  29. - Huh? - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 3:41 pm:

    It depends on the topic of conversation. Talking to my wife about work, all the time. Very rarely in work conversations.

    I have other ways of making my point, mostly by being blunt and not taking any BS from consultants.


  30. - Six Degrees of Separation - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 3:43 pm:

    In my head, probably every other word. Out of my mouth, rare as hen’s teeth. I don’t know how I keep my Tourette’s bottled up, must be a gift from above.


  31. - Payback - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 3:46 pm:

    Much less than we did in high school, but occasionally more than I probably should for professional situations.

    I think there may be something to this link between swearing and honesty. Everyone I ever knew who was a real Chicagoan (legit grew up in Chicago city limits, not Aurora) swore a lot more than the people from the heartland of Illinois that I went to college with. I always thought that a real Chicagoan would shoot you straight when you asked for an opinion, city of big shoulders and all that.


  32. - Nobody dat Nobody Sent - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 3:46 pm:

    Speaking of Speaker Madigan, ever notice how he regularly gesticulates and points with his middle finger? Cracks me up every time I see him do it!


  33. - Dysfunction Junction - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 3:48 pm:

    Rarely. Never in a professional setting and very sparingly in personal ones. Which is why when I do drop an F bomb, my family and friends understand the gravity of the situation. Exception: when I drop something on a foot or a hand slips off a wrench and slices open a knuckle. Then all bets are off.


  34. - The Opinions Bureau - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 3:50 pm:

    Every doggone day.


  35. - Livco - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 3:50 pm:

    A metric s-ton.


  36. - lake county democrat - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 3:51 pm:

    rarely but regularly


  37. - West Sider - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 3:52 pm:

    Over the years it has varied depending upon my level of stress and exhaustion, so sometimes it’s “every ——- day” and sometimes it’s “punctuation”.


  38. - Precinct Captain - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 3:53 pm:

    Easier to count when I don’t than when I do, but only once in front a legislator


  39. - thunderspirit - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 3:53 pm:

    My dad was a union carpenter for a lot of years. He shared his colorful language often, and could string them together in entertaining and creative ways. (”I didn’t know a hammer could *do* that.”)

    I am not a union carpenter, but the apple did not otherwise fall far from the tree.


  40. - Citizen Kane - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 3:53 pm:

    Several times per hour.


  41. - JS Mill - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 3:55 pm:

    Like a sailor in casual conversations. I am pretty creative with it too.

    Given my role as an educator I could justifiably swear every 10 seconds but I never do at work.


  42. - Rutro - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 3:55 pm:

    Not as f’ing much as Blago, more than MJM, sh*t you not. It only bothers me when I use the lords name or am in range of my kids.


  43. - Inverted Pyramid - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 3:56 pm:

    All the time.
    Swearing is a thing, and it’s f-ing golden.


  44. - Wensicia - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 3:57 pm:

    I was raised with the notion that ladies don’t swear. I can’t at work (public school) and I would never swear in front of the children at home.

    But in private, or alone in my car, I find swearing quite carthartic.


  45. - Amalia - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 4:00 pm:

    Let’s see, what time did I wake up? All the f…ing time. Want to be more creative at it so think it’s time to study some other English speaking folks like the Scots, and to use French swear words more.


  46. - Sayitaintso - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 4:04 pm:

    Lee Elia……lo, so many years ago, and his rant lives on like it was yesterday. If you’re going to go out, go out in a blaze. Boy, did he ever.


  47. - Uptown Progressive - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 4:06 pm:

    Retired clergy. I am making up for lost time.


  48. - Teddy Salad - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 4:08 pm:

    Was commodities trader, worked solid waste in Chicago and was a precinct Captain. I can swear with the best of them. Can do it in Polish, Italian and Spanish. But never in business or around any female older than I.


  49. - Lefty Lefty - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 4:10 pm:

    I only swear when someone uses “literally” incorrectly.


  50. - Papa2008 - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 4:10 pm:

    Seldom enough that when I do, the people around get very quiet.


  51. - Chicago Cynic - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 4:14 pm:

    To quote George C. Scott in the movie Patton, “every G*d Dam* Day.” And often. I need to catch myself sometimes because I am too free with my profanity.


  52. - JoanP - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 4:17 pm:

    Less since January 20.


  53. - JDuc - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 4:18 pm:

    Always.


  54. - Lucky Pierre - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 4:21 pm:

    Usually just swear under my breath especially after a great post gets blocked.

    Catholic guilt is a very powerful thing


  55. - allknowingmasterofraccoodom - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 4:21 pm:

    Daily. Hourly. F-off Rich.


  56. - FormerParatrooper - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 4:22 pm:

    As a soldier every noun and adjective was generally a swear word. Not for swearing sake but to drive a point. Now, not so much unless I am talking to combat arms vet.


  57. - Ducky LaMoore - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 4:23 pm:

    Never around the children, constantly around the childish. And Lee Elia is no Earl Weaver.


  58. - Nieva - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 4:23 pm:

    Only when talking about Chicago.


  59. - A Guy - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 4:25 pm:

    Can’t even tell anymore.


  60. - Hickory - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 4:28 pm:

    Seldom - The F word is used so frequent that I’ve found my body language, including facial expression, more effective.


  61. - RIJ - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 4:32 pm:

    I use a variety of mild swear words in a variety of languages regularly, but I reserve the use of harsher swear words (in English) for when I’m truly furious.


  62. - Cubs Win - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 4:33 pm:

    Remember the 80s, the Gap Band and the song “You Dropped a Bomb on Me?” I should be an honorary member of the band…although mostly at home and not in anger.


  63. - Joe Bidenopolous - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 4:34 pm:

    I grew up in f’in’ Illinois politics, what do *you* think, [terrible compound noun redacted].


  64. - Jed - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 4:40 pm:

    Don’t swear all that often but I did today when I read that over half of the recent arrests for car jacking in Chicago were charged with misdemeanor trespass instead of a class II theft felony. The state’s attorney is going to have some more ‘splainin’ to do.


  65. - SSL - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 4:42 pm:

    All. The. Time.


  66. - Big Rocker - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 4:44 pm:

    I always follow the Science.


  67. - Dance Band on the Titanic - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 4:58 pm:

    Only when I’m not sleeping (and probably then too).


  68. - Phineas Gurley - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 4:58 pm:

    Early in my career I swore like a sailor, mostly after working with some rough and tumble political operatives. Geniuses, but coarse.

    Then, like our beloved Wordslinger, I had some interactions with Senator Bob Dole that just blew me away. I read everything I could about him and learned that he NEVER swore. So I have tried to emulate Dole — and now I probably swear only a little bit more than MJM (but much less than his minions I worked with).


  69. - charles in charge - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 4:59 pm:

    All the effing time.


  70. - Captain Obvious - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 5:10 pm:

    I use swear words as punctuation. I am extremely smart. A stable genius even.


  71. - Don't Bloc Me In - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 5:17 pm:

    After I saw the 4:59 post, I was reminded of what it’s sometimes like to be traveling out of state, and answering the question of where I’m from. I’ll usually say ‘near Effingham.’ The looks on their faces, lol.


  72. - Streator Curmudgeon - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 5:21 pm:

    I used to live across the street from a playground/jungle gym. To hear 7 and 8 year-olds, both boys and girls, using the F-word liberally taught me that something seriously wrong is going on. They learn it at home or from classmates. It’s not cute nor is it funny.

    It coarsens our society. When our former President did it, it set a bad example for everyone.

    Swearing also, I think, displays a certain juvenile delight in doing something naughty.

    But my favorite comedians never did it. Neither did any of my professors in college.

    I noticed news networks did a lot of “beeping” in the audio of the assault on the Capitol in Washington. That should tell us something.

    Me? Never the F-word. Other swear words rarely.


  73. - Your Mom - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 5:24 pm:

    Legislation to teach profanity in schools int three, two, one


  74. - west wing - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 5:30 pm:

    once a day, seven times a week, 31 times a month ha ha


  75. - Southwest Sider - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 5:32 pm:

    Someone told me the Chicago region leads the nation in swearing. I can’t cite that source. Anyway, I swear very little. I used to a lot. I wanted to be more polished in my communication.


  76. - 4 percent - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 5:32 pm:

    I must be VERY well educated. LOL


  77. - thisjustinagain - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 5:50 pm:

    How often do I swear? Only on days with names ending in “day”. I swore in a dream once.

    5-dollar words just lack the energy and directness of obscenities. I mean, if I say “you should see a doctor about that rectal-cranial inversion you’re suffering from”, it lacks that certain something of saying “take your head out of your (censored)(banned punctuation marks)”


  78. - obiter dictum - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 5:59 pm:

    reminds me of a Lincoln story. riding to a military review in a vehicle being pulled through rough roads the driver of the team began to swear. the rougher the road the greater the swearing. Lincoln asked the driver if he was Episcopalian? The driver somewhat astonished replied he wasn’t much of anything. Lincoln responded that he must be Episcopalian since he swore just like Secretary Seward and he was an Episcopalian churchwarden. My experience has been the truly gifted swearers where devout members of some church


  79. - Pot calling kettle - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 6:23 pm:

    Varies daily with the situation and audience. I can go days without swearing and then, the stars align, and away I go. LOL


  80. - SubRosa - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 6:45 pm:

    Every day, sir.


  81. - Morty - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 7:32 pm:

    On average, thirty times a minute.

    And yes, my job requires me to speak all day- often in public.


  82. - AlfondoGonz - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 7:42 pm:

    It would probably be easier to track how often I don’t.


  83. - Stones - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 8:08 pm:

    Speaking as a guy who plays golf 5 days per week, I feel as though I can cuss with the best of them - especially on any double bogeys or worse.


  84. - 618er - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 8:18 pm:

    I tend to lose count of the number of work related WTFs I let loose on a daily basis… When I have to go back to working in my actual workplace, I hope I use my inside voice..


  85. - Hmmm - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 8:33 pm:

    Nonstop.

    First time I swore in front of my mom (prolific swear-er of her own) was when I was about 14 and in the car with her and spilled some coffee on myself. Let out a choice word and she went: “Where on EARTH did you learn that?”

    And I went: “Uhhh, from you.”

    And she just started laughing and said “Ah, fair enough.”

    Then, not too far after, I worked at a Labor Union — which is like getting your PhD in Swearing


  86. - Just a Citizen - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 8:42 pm:

    Rarely, because I believe there are better ways to express oneself. Guess I am neither creative or smart. LOL


  87. - Responsa - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 9:02 pm:

    I admit I probably swear at least some time every single day. However, I do not believe the words “seem” like cursing in the same way those exact words would have been taboo and shocking 30 or even 20 years ago. Go figure.


  88. - Rich Hill - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 9:36 pm:

    I fall somewhere in the range between Jerry Manuel and Lee Elia.


  89. - Langhorne - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 11:14 pm:

    Selectively, but with gusto and precision.

    Less is more.

    Points for creativity.


  90. - Muddy trail - Thursday, Jan 28, 21 @ 6:30 am:

    Never.

    I guess I can’t be trusted.


  91. - Lunchbox - Thursday, Jan 28, 21 @ 7:44 am:

    I really try to save swearing for a dire situation, otherwise I feel like the words don’t matter, ya know?


  92. - Manchester - Thursday, Jan 28, 21 @ 9:16 am:

    Not as much as my father, who was a career Navy man, but more than I should. Boy that man could string together a creative line of words to curl you hair. I know how to swear to great effect when I desire.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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