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lushlala

Is it easier to learn foreign swear words?

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It's widely known that a lot of people will know the swear words, rude expressions and phrases in a foreign language, but not much more than that. For instance, as hard as Setswana is a hard language to learn, a lot of expats seem to easily pick up and and have no trouble at all in remembering all the rude words and expressions. Why does this seem to be the case? Is there a scientific explanation for this? Just curious. TIA for your responses :) 

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In fact, those are the words that we're more interested on learning when we first start learning a new language, we also pronounce them properly without any vocalization mistake, it is agood step when you're basically trying to learn a new language, it somehow gets you way more into learning it, at least that is what I think.

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It is easier to learn the things you repeat the most or you hear the most. usually people swear a lot and foreigners just hear and remember so it is more because of the repetition. I was actually asking some of my Maltese colleagues to repeat some other words and phrases and there were few good guys who taught me several useful phrases but I learned to swear as well. If yo come to Serbia you will learn that we have huge number of swear words and a bad habit to swear a lot.

This guy is of Serbian descent and he is goofing around.

 

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It's one of the first things I learn in a new language and when I meet foreigners it's also the first ones I usually teach them, though not exactly swear words per se and instead maybe just the dirtier or sillier terms or slang. I think I do it this way, and probably most do as well, because it just is a fun way of introducing yourself to a new language. If the start seems fun then we are more likely to be curious about the rest, and a dirty word always comes in handy at making locals laugh especially when spoken with a foreign accent, so that's my theory on it. 

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I guess that this is simply the way human mind works, we tend to be more interested in things which have a sexual connotation or things that we know are taboo, therefore our mind tend to remember those easier. I remember how the first question for someone who knew a foreign language when we were kids would've been "hey, do you know how to swear in that language?" and then, we would've simply overused those foreign expressions over and over, without really understanding what they meant.

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I know some swear words in Dutch because my fiance use them very often :P  I also know a couple swear words in polish, but that's because they are very popular words.  I guess that is the reason most people learn bad words first.... they are used very often in the media, as well as among people when talking ;)   So it's almost impossible not to learn those words, after all I think swear words are the group of words that are used most. 

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I think the reason why many of us learn these swear words easily is because of their sounds which seem to be intense. Many people are attracted to aggressive words and tend to retain them faster than normal regular sounding words.

As a child, I learnt my neighbors foreign swear words only without learning the entire language.

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As for me, I think the reason its easier for most to pick up swear words is because it's fun. People has the tendency to gravitate towards those that are taboo. I think we get a little bit of pleasure in doing something that is not acceptable. Other than that, I think exposure also helps. As the others have mentioned, people now swear a lot these days. So, foreigners who are trying to learn a language, or even those who love to travel easily pick up those swear words from the locals.

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I do not necessarily believe it is true.  Having lived in central america for 3 years now, I have yet to pick up a single swear word other than ´butt´.   Usually people just remember those words because they are more fun.  Another hypothesis is that swear words are often said alone, and with emphasis, so it is easier to hear the distinct word.  I remember first learning the word ´nunca´ which means never, because I witnessed a disagreement and the one person just kept saying that one word, very distinctly.  Swear words are often said the same way.

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15 hours ago, FenWoFon said:

In fact, those are the words that we're more interested on learning when we first start learning a new language, we also pronounce them properly without any vocalization mistake, it is agood step when you're basically trying to learn a new language, it somehow gets you way more into learning it, at least that is what I think.

Funny how the brain works, huh?! It's like we learn rude words/expressions more easily because of their nature, because of the shock value, because the are more interesting IDK. I think that's why they also tend to stick better. I have a Danish uncle who swears like a sailor, and apparently he learnt English from a bunch of Americans who would swear all day long. Somehow that seemed to work its way into his brain and even as his proficiency improved, he never bothered to clean up his choice of words. He's a very dry sort of guy, and somehow, i don't see him changing now. In fact, he thoroughly enjoys his colourful language, even as awkward as it can make others around him.

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Others have stated it, but I think it's related to the frequency with which we use the words.  I swear a lot in my native language, because cursing helps me emote.  When I started learning French, I immediately went for the swear words for the ability to express myself more honestly.  Then there's Japanese, where I did the same.  But I rarely ever use curse words in Japanese.  Rather, I never get the chance to.  What I do use frequently and remember well are words associated with movement--since I'm a dancer in a company here in Japan.  

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10 hours ago, lushlala said:

Funny how the brain works, huh?! It's like we learn rude words/expressions more easily because of their nature, because of the shock value, because the are more interesting IDK. I think that's why they also tend to stick better. I have a Danish uncle who swears like a sailor, and apparently he learnt English from a bunch of Americans who would swear all day long. Somehow that seemed to work its way into his brain and even as his proficiency improved, he never bothered to clean up his choice of words. He's a very dry sort of guy, and somehow, i don't see him changing now. In fact, he thoroughly enjoys his colourful language, even as awkward as it can make others around him.

I swear that I have seen that kind of people before and it is funny because they can say the same word a thousand times without even noticing, apparently that is how the human brain works, we can not do anything about it :D

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I think it's useful to learn them, and maybe easier to do so if you're somewhere they'll be used often. But I wouldn't say that I find them easy to learn exactly. Individual words, yes. But I think the phrases and correct ways to use them can be more difficult. I think it would depend on whether you use swear words often yourself or not too though. I don't swear much in English, my native language, either. 

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I think so because they are just fun and naughty words to say. We all love the forbidden so we make an effort to try to learn how to say bad words. I also was the type of person who was so paranoid that I wanted to learn all of the bad words so I could tell if people were tying to talk about me behind my back in another language. 

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On 19 April 2016 at 10:47 PM, FenWoFon said:

I swear that I have seen that kind of people before and it is funny because they can say the same word a thousand times without even noticing, apparently that is how the human brain works, we can not do anything about it :D

Hehe I know quite a few, among them a Danish uncle. He can never finish a sentence without dropping the f-word LOL When we ask him why he swears so much, he says when he first started learning English, he learnt from a bunch of American sailors who swore all the time LOL Whether it's true or not, i'm not sure. But people always say those who feel the need to swear all the time just want to hide the fact that they have limited vocabulary. But it's not always the case. My uncle is one clear example, he swears a lot but speaks fantastic English :)

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Because sear words are easy to grasp. Is easier than trying to understand, say, how  a person ask for direction speaking in certain language. Is way I see it, therefore is not necessarily true. Also I think that another reason is because is something that  We could find  amusing enough  to yell profanities in another language.

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This is an interesting topic. When I was a kid, a friend knew how to swear in Spanish, I knew Italian curse words, and another friend knew German. We thought it was awesome just to know, mostly because we can use these words while leaving others clueless! I actually don't include curse words in my daily vocabulary and I just feel weird when it comes out rarely. However, when I use one of the many swear words I learned in other languages, I don't feel as nasty and, again, it leaves the others clueless which is better. Just like learning how to count in other languages, it's something relevant that may be easier to remember. The sequences of number order from low to high is a simple concept. It's not a conversation piece, it's something you may find useful or (want to find use for) someday. Learning greetings and phrases in every language may be more difficult. 

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For some reason, it seems to be easier to remember certain things. Even without much effort you are able to remember swear words and certain slang words. It may be the frequency with which you hear the words or you subconsciously keeping note of them but they just seem to stay with you. I can speak 3 languages but swear in about 5 or 6.

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I wouldn't say that they are easier but they are probably the first words we come in contact with a new language. I know how to great in Greek but before I knew how to greet in Greek, I already knew a swear word. So if I go to Greece I can greet and swear. lol

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I think it is easier since they have so much use and they are probably the most frequently used in any language. Also it's just a bit more fun to learn because it's always funny hearing a foreigner cuss in your own language or even if you are that foreigner sometimes it's funny too just because you get to say something naughty and draw a laugh from the locals. I think it is just the same as any word but probably it's one of the more memorable ones because of this type of role it plays in culture. 

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It's not technically easier, but it comes off as that because people tend to become more interested in it. I actually experienced that first hand. I teach English to Koreans and one of my students asked me to teach her my own language (I'm Filipino, by the way.) They first thing they wanted to learn were the curse words. They wanted to prank their friends and pull tricks on them using another language. 

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On 19 April 2016 at 11:56 PM, sillylucy said:

I think so because they are just fun and naughty words to say. We all love the forbidden so we make an effort to try to learn how to say bad words. I also was the type of person who was so paranoid that I wanted to learn all of the bad words so I could tell if people were tying to talk about me behind my back in another language. 

I really like your response, @sillylucy! I think this will probably be the case for many people. I know for a fact, that for me there's that element of fun and naughtiness that comes with learning swear words, for sure. There just seems to be a lightness about it as opposed to the seriousness that comes with learning to speak the  'proper language'. Plus for some of us, there's also that desire to shock and watch people's reactions to anything naughty you've said. IDK it's like a bit of a perverted thrill, in a sense LOL

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I've always seemed to know cuss words in other languages. I'm not sure why its easier to remember them. Maybe its because they are "forbidden". They always say if you aren't allowed to do something you want to do it more. 

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