Tuesday, November 25, 2008

English Is a Cursing Language

Many languages, including, I believe, Thai, do not routinely include a lot of what is called bad language, or cursing, in their ordinary discourse. Thai is a very polite language, and most Thai’s consider cursing to be bad form, encouraging disharmony. I understand this.

European languages differ widely on the subject of cursing. German, for instance, is a very poor cursing language. “Halt’s Maul,” (hold your muzzle) is a very bad thing to say to someone. “Pass auf,” (watch out) is rude enough to start a fight. The “Maul” comment compares the victim of the bad language to a dog, and both forgo the usual polite character of German. “Halten Sie Ihrer Mund,” or “Passen Sie auf,” might be a little better, at least they are in the form of polite German, and without the dog reference. A German would only use the short, impolite form when addressing a prisoner, or maybe an idiot. Or if he were trying to start a fight.

Italian is the gold standard of cursing. They are the grandmasters of cursing. Some of it is totally blasphemous, like “Madona brahaiola,” (The Madona shoots up [heroin]). Some is graphically obscene, like “vate a’ fare un culo,” more usually rendered, “va’ f’an’gul,” (go get fucked in the ass). I love the simple beauty of “porco dio,” (pig god), or “porca miseria!” (pig misery!). They also like to compare each other, or their families, to vegetables or the lesser animals. But it’s all just casual conversation to the Italians, they don’t say these things in anger, it’s all good fun. Not like Germans, who reach for their knives at lesser offences.

The French and the Spanish really mean business. Cursing in those languages is personal, hateful, and mean spirited. Look it up.

English is more like the Italian style. The bad words are used as much for emphasis as anything else, as in “that was the biggest fucking fish I’ve ever seen!” No one’s day should be ruined by a little sprinkling of bad words into casual English. It’s just a small part of our vast arsenal of words.

So please forgive me if I occasionally indulge in a little cursing herein.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

People that don't curse can't be trusted. And for those of you that never sleep with curs you can go fuck yourselves.