Author Topic: This thread's about swearing  (Read 2182 times)

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Even Then

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This thread's about swearing
« on: September 20, 2015, 04:06:19 pm »
I find it interesting how the connotations of words are so different in different cultures. For example, I've been led to believe that "cunt" is one of the worst things you can call someone in the USA (and pretty misogynistic besides, which I do understand), while here in Finland, the equivalent word is just a general-purpose swear that isn't even used about people (as far as I know).

So, this is a thread for all those contextual differences between words, and what's foul language all over the world.

Offline Sigmaleph

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Re: This thread's about swearing
« Reply #1 on: September 20, 2015, 05:00:37 pm »
Translating an insult/swear is complicated because even when there's an equivalent for the literal meaning 90% of the content is in connotation.

I don't recall right now if there's a Spanish equivalent to using cunt to refer to a person. I don't think so, but there could be one I'm not thinking of/is used in other dialects/etc.
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Offline Ultimate Paragon

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Re: This thread's about swearing
« Reply #2 on: September 20, 2015, 11:34:17 pm »
Well, "cunt" is really only considered the mother of all swear words in America and Canada.  In the rest of the Anglosphere, it's nowhere near as charged.

Art Vandelay

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Re: This thread's about swearing
« Reply #3 on: September 20, 2015, 11:40:31 pm »
In English, most of the time the difference between a swear and a less "offensive" word is the former is usually Germanic and the latter is French in origin (something like "shit" and "faeces" or "fuck" and "fornicate"). It's a holdover from the time when William and Conqueror along with a bunch of other French-speaking aristocrats invaded and successfully took England.

Offline I am lizard

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Re: This thread's about swearing
« Reply #4 on: September 21, 2015, 12:10:13 am »
Art is an Aussie, so he should be the most knowledgeable person when it comes to swearing.

Offline lord gibbon

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Re: This thread's about swearing
« Reply #5 on: September 21, 2015, 12:21:14 am »
Not only that, he's Art. This is the sort of knowledge he excels at.
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Art Vandelay

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Re: This thread's about swearing
« Reply #6 on: September 21, 2015, 01:48:05 am »
Aw, shucks you guys.

Offline solar.

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Re: This thread's about swearing
« Reply #7 on: September 21, 2015, 02:17:09 pm »
I know that in Australia, "cunt" is barely even a swear word. In Dutch, their words for "fuck" and "shit" aren't offensive, but "kanker," their word for cancer, is very offensive when used as an insult. Very interesting.
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Offline SCarpelan

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Re: This thread's about swearing
« Reply #8 on: September 21, 2015, 03:07:50 pm »
The usage of words varies not only geographically but also evolves with time. While "fuck" seems to have been used as a swear word for centuries the Finnish word "vittu" (the word the OP discussed; its modern usage is similar to "fuck" as an all-purpose swear word) was just a neutral reference to the female genitalia a century ago. If you take a look at the Finnish folk poetry collected in the 19th century (the SKVR collection, available also online as a free database) this non-vulgar usage is very obvious.

Offline SpaceProg

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Re: This thread's about swearing
« Reply #9 on: September 21, 2015, 03:21:13 pm »
Don't ask where you can find a fanny pack in Britain.  Of course, everyone knows that one.

Offline guizonde

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Re: This thread's about swearing
« Reply #10 on: September 21, 2015, 05:30:46 pm »
in the south of france, the word "con" (that can be either "stupid" or female genitalia, though archaic) is basic punctuation, just like "putain" (whore). both are used liberally, with a singing accent. go north, and all of a sudden, both are horribly offensive. not to extreme levels, but enough to generate culture shock. it's not just the accent that can change, but the vernacular, as well.
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Offline TheL

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Re: This thread's about swearing
« Reply #11 on: September 22, 2015, 04:50:11 pm »
A few odd ones I've learned from anime:

"Chikusho" (sometimes abbreviated to just "kuso") is a really mild swear in Japanese, somewhere along the lines of "Darn!"  Little kids use it.  In English translations of anime, it's almost always replaced with "damn it" or something similar.

Meanwhile, there's a way of saying the Japanese word for "you" that is considered extremely vulgar.  This is why, when the subtitles say "You bastard!" or "Damn you!" the Japanese you hear is...not really very consistent.  Half the time, people are actually saying a specific insult, while the other half, they're just saying "you" in a very insulting tone.

And, of course, leaving out the honorific after someone's name is extremely rude.  How rude depends on which level of honorific you should have used; generally, only very close sibs or lovers are going to be able to get away with no honorifics at all, so failure to use one implies a level of informality/intimacy that isn't really there.  There's no good way to show this in English translation, because we don't really have an equivalent in most Anglophone cultures.  If it's relevant, then honorifics will just be tacked on to the translation as-is: "I think Hikari-kun's right, you guys."

Example of honorific deliberately used incorrectly: In an episode of InuYasha, another miko who was passed up for Kikyo's job refers to her as "Kikyo-dono."  However, they're close enough in status that "Kikyo-san" would be much more appropriate.  The use of an honorific several levels higher than makes sense is used sarcastically in this context, to imply that Kikyo is undeserving of the honor she's been given by their superiors, and possibly also that she's stuck-up.

For reference:
"-hime" I've only seen this one to mean "princess."
"-dono" Archaic; used by peasants toward royalty or shoguns.  Really, really huge implied difference in status here.
"-sama" Similar to "my lord" or "my lady;" generally higher-status than we think of "sir" or "ma'am" in everyday English.
"-sensei" Doctor or teacher.
"-san" About the level of "sir" or "ma'am;" used for slightly higher-status adults or strangers.
"-senpai" Used by a younger student to address an older one.
"-kohai" Used by an older student to address a younger one.
"-chan" or "-kun" Used toward people equal or below you in status, unless they're just students in a lower grade.  Usually "-chan" is feminine, and "-kun" is masculine, but there may be exceptions that I don't know about.


Trying to map two totally unrelated languages onto each other is weird.
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Re: This thread's about swearing
« Reply #12 on: September 22, 2015, 06:17:34 pm »
And yet weebos of the early 00s did it all the time.

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Re: This thread's about swearing
« Reply #13 on: September 22, 2015, 06:53:17 pm »
Actually I think the closest equivalent in Anglo languages would probably titles like Mr,Ms,Mrs etc at least that's the closest I could come up with in my mind.

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Re: This thread's about swearing
« Reply #14 on: September 25, 2015, 11:33:32 pm »
OK, so why do the kids in Super Sentai refer to the heroes as "onee-chan?" That honorific would seem inappropriate.