Oh My, Ohio! Five States Named 'Most Likely To Curse' | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

Oh My, Ohio! Five States Named 'Most Likely To Curse'

Play associated audio

Most of us like to think we comport ourselves with a certain level of civility. But apparently, phone calls with customer service representatives of all stripes can lead us into more colorful speech. And some people like to track it.

"There's just something about big data and sailor-cursing that complement each other—like peanut butter and mothereffing jelly," writes Megan Garber of The Atlantic.

Potty-mouth research in the past has focused on the written word — looking at the incidence of F-bombs dropped in geotagged tweets or Facebook posts, for example.

But ad firm Marchex went straight for the voice. They researched recorded customer service calls — those ones where the customer sometimes gets left on the line, waiting and waiting and maybe even cursing a little, forgetting that their "call may be recorded for quality service."

Using call-mining technology, Marchex scanned over 600,000 phone calls from the past year. The calls had been placed by customers to businesses in 30 different industries, from cable companies to auto dealerships to pest control centers.

The project looked at two things: where people swear the most, and where they are the most polite, using phrases like "please" and "thank you" in their phone calls.

Garber's home state of Ohio performed abysmally — both in terms of swearing and lack of courtesy.

"I have to admit, there's a little part of me that's a little bit proud," Garber tells NPR's Rachel Martin. "Mostly I'm ashamed, but a little bit proud as well."

Ohio led the way in the "Sailors" category — states where people are most likely to curse. Maryland, New Jersey, Louisiana and Illinois followed suit.

The goody-two-shoes states, which used the least profanity, were led by Washington, followed by Massachusetts, Arizona, Texas and Virginia.

South Carolina led the "Most Courteous" states, which also included North Carolina, Maryland, Louisiana and Georgia. Finally, the "Least Courteous" team: Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Indiana, Tennessee and Ohio. Again.

Aside from the state breakdowns, Garber says the group learned a bit more about cursing habits.

"We learned a little bit about the gender distribution. So, 66 percent of the curses came from men," she says. And people don't like waiting.

"Calls that last more than 10 minutes by far had the most profanity used," she explains. "So, you can see a situation where a phone call wasn't going well and the frustration would build, and that frustration would finally be relieved by some well-chosen words."

This should all make us think twice as we are expressing ourselves on these phone calls. Just take a deep breath first.

Marchex plans on releasing more state-by-state cursing information next week.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Scott Simon: 'We Don't Fully Grow Up' Until We Lose Our Parents

"There are some lessons that only grief and responsibility can teach us," says Weekend Edition host Scott Simon. His new memoir, Unforgettable, is about the life and death of his mother.
NPR

The Revival Of Lamb Ham: A Colonial Tradition Renewed

British colonialists brought lamb ham to America, where a sugar-cured, smoked variety became popular. Easier-to-cure pork ham eventually took its place, but now two Virginians are bringing it back.
WAMU 88.5

Legal Cloud Lifts For Controversial Alexandria Waterfront Plan

Thanks to a recent ruling of the Virginia Supreme Court in Richmond, developers now have a green light to start demolishing a series of old abandoned warehouses and building structures in Alexandria that are much larger than what's there now.
NPR

If Drones Make You Nervous, Think Of Them As Flying Donkeys

In Africa, where there aren't always roads from Point A to Point B, drones could take critical medicines to remote spots. But the airborne vehicles make people uneasy for lots of reasons.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.