I found this interesting. A professor from Aston University in England has created a series of maps which show the relative frequency of particular profanities in America. As it turns out, certain words are more likely to be said in different parts of the US.
Towards the top of the page, there is a interactive list of profane words. You can click on a word to see a color-coded map showing the relative usage frequency of that particular word. (It seems to take a bit to load each new map, so give it a few seconds.) Dark blue colors represent the least frequent usage, dark orange the highest.
I was particularly amused by the results for the innocuous words of 'gosh' and 'darn', and by Maine's apparent obsession for the nether regions of the body....
WARNING: THE LINK BELOW CONTAINS EXTREME PROFANITY. If you are offended by profanity, or are worried about potential NSFW language, do not click the link. You've been advised.
Map of profanity frequency in the US
I'm most amused by 'gosh' - how there's this island of heavy goshers in western Nebraska, with that one lonely holdout right in the middle who just refuse to succumb to peer pressure.
Also interesting as to why the propensity to refer to conjugal relations with your mother seems to center along the US/Mexico border (with another bastion up in Maine).
I wonder why they call them "bad-boy words" Did they only study men? It would be interesting to see a sex breakdown.
I'm certainly surprised that "gosh" is termed "profanity".
Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.
I think they are just using the term profanity to refer to any interjection people say. They probably had to include some of these mildest oaths, just so they didn't have holes in regions people don't use the stronger versions. I wasn't at all surprised by the areas with heaviest usage of gosh and darn, they corresponded pretty much to stereotypes of speech from those areas.
It would be interesting to see breakdowns of more of the milder/kiddy versions as well. I really want to know where 'fiddlesticks' and 'fudge' are most popular.
Incidentally, 'gosh' was originally a slightly milder version of 'God', just as 'darn' was a watered down version of 'damn', but they've become much further removed than they originally were, to the point they're now safe for Baptists and small children to say. However, it used to be only slighter tamer than saying 'G*d d*mn'.
Of course, that was probably far enough back that it would have been considered blasphemous as much as profane, punishable by imprisonment, lashing, and fines. Some of those laws are even still on the books, albeit antiquated and not really enforced. They just weren't ever actually stricken from certain state statutes.
Last edited by Skrej; 17-Jul-2015 at 23:48. Reason: typo-oh-ohs.
It would be interesting to see similar maps for the other variants.