University of Warsaw researchers have found people who speak foreign languages find it easier to swear when not using their first language.
A study asked Polish speakers who also speak fluent English to translate expletives between the two languages. It found that when they translated to English they tended to pick strong curses but when they translated to Polish they tended to use milder variants.
According to the Emotion-Related Language Choice theory, they find their second language an easier medium of conveying content which evokes strong emotions. The first language carries too much emotional power, which can be threatening for the speaker… the effect was only observed for ethnophaulisms, i.e. expletives directed at social groups. It turns out that the main factor triggering the language choice in bilinguals is not necessarily the different emotional power of both languages, but social and cultural norms.
(Image credit: Scott Harris via Creative Commons)