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In a recent episode of the TV series, "Modern Family" a toddler blurted out a swear word. This scene stirred quite a controversy as experts weighed in with arguments that swearing by preschool children is inevitable, intolerable, avoidable, or something else. Here is a sampling of some reactions as shared in MSNBC.
"The show's theme already has critics at the anti-indecency Parents Television Council grumbling, but researchers who study cursing find that, believe it or not, 2 years is about the age when kids really start to use 'adult' language.
"'Yes, 2-year-olds say f---,' said Timothy Jay, a psychologist who studies psycholinguistics and obscenities at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. 'Preschoolers are pretty well versed in the lexicon, and by 11 to 12, we are looking at adult swearing patterns. Kids say swear words as soon as they talk.'
"Jay and his colleagues have a dataset stretching back into the 1970s of words that school teachers, day care workers, and other adults who work with children report hearing. Kids mimic words early on and pick up quickly on which words are 'bad,' even if they don't know the exact definitions of those words, Jay said.
"In fact, studies suggest that swearing is firmly embedded in the brain. Swearing is a form of 'formulaic language,' said Diana Van Lancker Sidtis, a professor of communicative sciences and disorders at New York University. These are expressions such as 'You bet!' that frequently appear in conversation, and kids learn them as they're learning how to piece together sentences."
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