laura

What does everyone think about swearing in a second language? Good fun? Good practice? Plain offensive? Too tricky?

Recommended Posts

I am wondering what everyone thinks about swearing in a second language.

I think it is one of those areas of language reserved only for the most confident speakers who have managed to get a good grasp of their second language culture. It is interesting, maybe even "impressive", when someone gets it right and swears with a perfectly aimed and constructed truly native sounding expression.

Or is it just offensive and to be avoided at all costs in one's own language or any other.

My husband is doing quite well now at swearing in Spanish. Or maybe I should say he is doing badly as some of the stuff he comes out with now is quite filthy. He seems very proud and finds it all very funny. He likes how the Spanish swear words sound and think they are milder than their English equivalents.

I am not so sure. I think we just get used to our own swear words and understand their full force better.

Here is an interesting article on the topic, but I would like to hear everyone else's opinion.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello Laura,

Personally, I don't like swearing in any language, and I try to do it as rarely as is humanly possible but there is some truth about the "sounds milder" effect.

For some reason, even if you do understand the words perfectly, swear words in foreign languages do seem to be somehow "milder" and "less offensive-sounding" to me. I fully understand it is not so but my mind does play that "come on, it's not so bad" trick on me. So occasionally I catch myself saying some nasty word in English because my brain thinks it's really not that ugly-sounding. I wonder if anyone else has the same correlation between swear word and foreign language?

Ania

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think that it is everything you asked in the thread.  For some people, swearing is fun; to others it is offensive.  I also think that it is good practice.  Any words you use are good practice, regardless of their meaning.  I think, however, that they are no more difficult than other words to learn.  I know a few swear words in different languages. I can't remember them all.  My friend taught them to me when we were children so we could swear around adults and get away with it.  I think you should learn to apologize in the language that you are learning the swear words.  Some people don't like profanities. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I personally don't swear myself. Swearing to me is plain offensive regardless of the language used. I have a Korean co-worker who is learning our local language. I see that he's only having fun with it. It's not like he means those when he says them in our language. I say this because he often laughs every time he use them primarily because he can't get the intonation right. In any case, the swear words in the second language may sound cute spoken by a foreigner, but to the local who's listening to it won't find it cute especially if directed at them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I do not think that it is offensive to swear in another language. I think it is funny that you are trying to learn a new language and the first words that most people gravitate towards are always the naughty ones. I guess people also don't want to be taken for a fool so they want to know the bad words in case people try to talk about them behind their backs. 

innovativecat likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I swear in English and Spanish. If I knew any other languages, I'd swear in them, too. LOL. Swearing is fun and funny, but then again, I'm like a giant kid and can sometimes joke around more than my kids! I don't find it at all offensive, as long as you don't actually use the word AT someone or use it to insult anyone in any way. In that case, I don't agree with it. But as a way to add a little spice into a conversation? Swearing is awesome. LOL.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I like funny swears. There are few in my languages that when spoken to somebody who doesn't speak it may seem a bit absurd. One of those is "mars u picku materinu" which literally means that you're ordering somebody to march right back into their own mother (which isn't very nice), but my favorite variation is "da se nosis u tri picke materine" (that was my grandma's favorite) which literally means to go into back into three different mothers and that is just plain ridiculous when you think about it. I like learning these "funny" ones, but I don't like using them... Well, because they're kinda rude. I feel kinda dirty when I swear, in any language. 

pesic87 likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I do not like swear words. I mean I don't like saying them, especially out loud. I am a lady, after all. But, I can hear swearing all around me. I come from a country where swear words are like bread, everyday thing. People always can't live without them. :D But, I am guessing it is the same in all Slavic countries.

I find swear words to be offensive and degrading. but somethings when using them to joke about something, or in a humorous way, they can be fun, too. :)

I had an ex boyfriend from Serbia, my country, who was swearing every second, like he would say one normal word, and it would immediately be followed by a swearing word, and so on...I really hated that, and I tried to change that in him, but all in vain. :( I guess it is some habit for him, and it is quite hard to get rid of habits, especially if you really do not pay attention to what gets out of your mouth...

anna3101 likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Japanese swears aren't really bad to say in Japanese society, so I end up using English swears when things get tough. However, if I want to signal that I am annoyed about something to a Japanese speaker with whom I know, I will use brief swear words. The thing is that Japanese swear words are really weak in terms of impact compared to how people receive them in some English speaking countries.

I have noticed that my frequency of swear-word use has definitely increased since I left my country and have lived long term in a country that doesn't have speakers of English. I can get away with swearing or putting in swear words in my sentences when I'm speaking fast to a friend at a store and no one will notice. Of course, I don't abuse this, but it's quite amusing sometimes. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, pesic87 said:

I do not like swear words. I mean I don't like saying them, especially out loud. I am a lady, after all. But, I can hear swearing all around me. I come from a country where swear words are like bread, everyday thing. People always can't live without them. :D But, I am guessing it is the same in all Slavic countries.

YES! It really is the same! I also hate it when people swear every 5 seconds without any real need for it - just because they never learnt to speak in a normal way. It feels so degrading to the language. Kind of like having a beautiful vintage dress and using it to wash dirty floors.

Occasional swearing I can understand and tolerate, but I wouldn't want to communicate with people who do it all the time. Too annoying.

pesic87 likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I swear in English a lot, in German occasionally. I used to hate swearing, but I don't anymore; sometimes a swear better captures a thought or feeling than anything else I can think of.

I think swearing in another language is decent practice, in that if you were fluent and living in your language's culture, you would probably be swearing here and there. But, I wouldn't go throwing around a foreign curse word to people who wouldn't understand or fluent speakers who might be offended. Do what you like, but don't offend anyone, essentially.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I basically swear as much as I breathe lol. But I hardly ever swear in French. It's just... different. I feel like it's harder to really colour your language in French, shall we say. That being said, cursing in another language, for me, really shows that you have either really mastered just the swears, or you have mastered the language. Natives will curse up and down in their language, and if you can keep up, I feel like it really can show you learned it through and through. I've met lots of people learning English, and the ones who developed the ability to swear like we do are the ones that never get asked what their native language is because it's just assumed it's English. EVEN if they have an accent. At least, this is my own personal experience.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I like swearing in any language. I think it is a fun way to start learning, especially in regards to grammar. Also, some languages have swear words that does not translate into any other language. So if you are a compulsive cusser like me, having the option of using exactly the right swear word for a given situation is oddly satisfying.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No matter what country you visit you must be able to defend yourself. The last thing I want to do is be in an area where I barely know the language and I'm being cursed out by the guy in the market because he wants to and knows that he can because I didn't take the time to study the most commonly used words. For whatever reason it may be- we live in a crazy world full of odd people.  

Im not saying to learn so you can walk around swearing at everyone but learn so you may be aware of any potential trouble.  hink about it children don't curse but they sure know  a bad word from a good word. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Honestly swearing in a second language always seem "less" offensive to me. I think part of it is because I'm not wired to hear those as swearing per se, but more like a foreign expression. You hear swearing in your own language (which is often much, much more "creative") and you take that personally. With second language, there's a barrier of translation (no matter how fluent you are at the language, you will still automatically translate it in your head) and sometimes that's enough to distant yourself from the words.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Many people who try to curse in L2 come off sounding humorous. If that doesn't bother you, then please continue.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am quite fond of hearing profanity in a foreign language, especially in the game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, where it featured the Spanish-speaking communities swearing.  Sometimes I just want to say the words to my parents as they would have no idea what they mean.  I also try to practice them on my own for fun.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I never swear out loud. You just never know who you might offend. I hardly ever swear in my first language so swearing is not something I'm comfortable saying in a language I'm learning.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think it's fun, and, to an extent, good practice. When you're trying to learn a language, any time you're thinking or speaking in that language, you're actively learning or recalling what you've learned. I know a lot of people find swear words offensive, but I love swearing in German (main language I am learning)- I find it to be the most beautiful language, yet the swear words are jut as filthy, and I love that. There's no impression that what I'm saying is less in German than it is in English. Maybe it sounds prettier (to me it does), but it's just a bad, and I like that about it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is in the teaching a language section, so I will assume this question is about swearing words and teaching those to students :P   So no, I never taught my students swear words, because well,  those swear words are all over the place and they don't really needed the help for that. Plus  that wasn't part of the study plan :)   And to be honest I am not a big fan of swear words, because they remind me of my awful biological dad, who was an awful man with no manners, respect to others or a pinch of decency in him.  He swore a lot on a daily basis, so vulgar.  

He also yelled to me and my mom a lot ,always starting fight after spending days gambling and coming back home, getting angry because my mom didn't receive him with a big smile and open arms... Yep, a complete jerk and poor excuse of a man.   He is everything I never want to be: an abuser and more.  So when I think of swearing I think of him, and I want to stay as far away from that as possible, because I NEVER want to be like him.  

I have a strong aversion towards swearing... specially in my mother language, but sometimes some swear words escape from my mouth in English, but I always end up feeling bad about it, because I know I am not acting like myself. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Fun  but Too tricky. Swearing in a second language fun and knowing the bad languages in other language is important to be able to know when a native speaker is angry. It also prevent you from embarrassing moment just in case someone tried to make you say it infront of other people. But it's quite tricky too because bad language has different effect on people depending on how attached hey are to that language. Swearing at me in for example in Chinese wouldn't have the same effect as hearing you swear at me in my own native dialect. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't tend to swear often in Spanish unless there's good reason to and I wouldn't do it for fun. I don't tend to swear a lot in English either, although I find in my native language it's easier to tell if people are being serious or just messing around. In a foreign language it's harder to tell that sometimes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think swearing in any language is just a no go. But it is true that when you say swear words in another language you don't feel it's as vulgar as if it were your own language, but it's the same thing. I think people of the opposite language probably feel the same if they were to cuss in are language they would feel it's not as bad, It's only because we don't feel the full force and it's a unknown language. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well to be honest I have forgotten all of the fun words that I used to know in Polish, which is what I would use, and I just have not had the desire to learn them again.  They are just a fun thing to know, I suppose, but they really have no actual benefit.  I remember in school it was always good for a good little "he he" laugh type of moment, but that is about it.  I guess you can safely swear without getting in trouble, if you really need to feel the need to sweat that bad.  Interesting stuff, and thanks for sharing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't know, I can have a good laugh with swearing sometimes. The intrinsic silliness within the coarse language makes everyone feel lax and more confident to speak with sheer honesty. When you're trying to be polite, you can't help but lie sometimes in order to not touch another person's nerve.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now