laura

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

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Surely swearing in another language - or at least knowing the words - is another step forward in becoming fully competent? Each to their own I suppose.

Although, I'm studying Manx and I'm not even sure there are any swear words - not that I've come across anyway.

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I remember that during my Spanish class, all of the kids would try to look in the dictionary for bad words. Honestly, I think that one's gravitation towards curse words has a lot to do with their maturity and humor. Your husband probably only means fun out of using the curse words, and doesn't mean to be offensive. And you're absolutely correct; he doesn't know the strength of the words, because it's not his fluent tongue, and he cannot possibly know the connotations behind those words. If you don't like him using a certain phrase, I would try to explain to him possibly the connotations behind it, and politely ask him to lay off the word.

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I curse like a sailor in my native language, and I do swear in other languages that I know.  I'm an adult, those words are part of the language, and native speakers use them, so why not.  Sometimes I do it on accident!  I once asked a Spanish-speaking lady at work for her point card, and I ended up forgetting the word for "point" and called it her "tarjeta de p-ta" (with a "U" in there).  She gave me a very nasty look, and I didn't realize that I had asked for her "(very bad word) card" until later.
That being said, if you want to learn, "Hide This Spanish Book!" is a good resource.  I think they make it for other languages, too.  They talk about which words are kind of harsh, and the ones that will get you punched in the face.  That's always something good to know!

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I sometimes curse or insult people in my second language, and I can do it when talking about a third person while talking to someone who knows my second language.  I did it just last night and again today while talking in Yiddish with my father, who knows a lot of Yiddish when we were talking about someone else.  There are actually a lot of very colorful Yiddish insults that I've been picking up while learning the language and I like that I can do it while talking to someone in Yiddish.  It means I can express myself more and more in my second language and it feels good saying it to someone who grew up with the language immediately understanding my words and agreeing with my assessments.  It enhances my comfort zone being able to express both positive and negative opinions in the language I'm learning and that's the way it works when people fluently speak any language, they can speak vulgar or vile things so it brings a level of authenticity to my linguistic skills and I think it's a very good thing. 

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It's certainly useful (and fun!) to learn swear words in your target language, even at an early stage, but actually using them should wait a little I think. It's really hard to know when it's appropriate to swear until you've been around the language a while, and until then your swearing risks being comical (which might be OK) or offensive. I've definitely heard non-native English speakers blurt out the F-word at inappropriate times - I guess it's the first "expressive" English word you learn!

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