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Barometer

How often do people (even judges) swear?

Also in our Barometer column: Greenland’s economy, the Duke of Westminster and the Yorkshire Ripper

20 August 2016

9:00 AM

20 August 2016

9:00 AM

Four-letter surveys

A judge at Chelmsford Crown Court who was sworn at by a man she was sentencing to jail swore back at him from the bench. How common is swearing?

— A study in 1980 by Timothy Jay of the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts analysed 11,609 words of everyday conversation and found 70 taboo words — a rate of 0.7%.

— A similar study in Britain in 2006 suggested that between 0.3% and 0.5% of words we utter are swearing, and a 2007 US study suggested a rate of between 0.5% and 0.7%. According to the latter, Americans utter between 15,000 and 16,000 words a day, 80–90 of them taboo.

On the way out


Greenland’s former prime minister said he had no regrets about the country’s vote to leave the EU in 1982, though it took three years to negotiate an exit. What happened to the economy before the vote, during negotiations and after departure from the EU in 1985?

Gross domestic product of Greenland in US dollars

1979 $420m
1980 $476m
1981 $435m
1982 $402m
1983 $416m
1984 $379m
1985 $412m
1986 $603m
1987 $787m

Ducal rank

How did the Duke of Westminster’s position in the Sunday Times Rich List change over the years?

2001 1st
2006 3rd
2011 4th
2012 7th
2013 8th
2014 10th
2015 9th
2016 6th

Patients vs prisoners

Peter Sutcliffe, also known as the Yorkshire Ripper, who has been held in Broadmoor since his conviction for murder in 1981, was declared sane and will be sent to an ordinary prison. How many people are detained in psychiatric hospitals?

On 31 March 2013 there were 22,207 people detained under the Mental Health Act — 16,989 in hospital and 5,218 subject to Community Treatment Orders. Most are not criminals, but detained as a danger to themselves. In the same week the prison population was 80,332.


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