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Swearing in Spanish

Swearing in Spanish

Being able to swear in Spanish is incredibly useful and fulfilling–but can get you into some pretty mucky water.  Everybody knows the words, but you also have to realize the weight each one carries.  If you really want to improve your volcabulary we could give an on-line course, but you’d have to present proof of age (and it would be nice if you paid us).  For now we’ll keep it (reasonably) clean.

June 24, 2008

Holy cow!

Holy cow!

We’re teaching how to swear in Spanish?  This is a family-oriented site, isn’t it?

Of course it is—but there are many different types of families!

Why is it that the first words many people want to learn are the colorful ones?  I did a fun stint this past winter subbing a High School Spanish class in New York.  Some of the kids couldn’t even say “My name is…”, but they all wanted to know what “Cab..put..dejo” means.  Perfect pronunciation, too.

Swearing in Mexico is more fun than in the states—it’s much more common, and (almost) everybody does it.  It is often used more in a joking sense, and it doesn’t seem to make you sound quite as illiterate as swearing in English does.  (Nothing in real life television marks a person more than the number of times she says f%$).

But, like adding herbs and spices to a fine stew, enough is enough and you can pass the line.

It takes some time to weigh the impact of your new favorite words.  As we’ve written here before, some cognates which to us are very mild carry much more punch in Spanish.  Estupido, idiota, and inutil (useless) are all firecrackers to avoid unless you are sure of what meaning you are conveying.  While we’d say “I’m such an idiot—I forgot my lunch,” you will never hear that in Spanish.

In “Dangerous Spanish” we talked about how innocent words in some Spanish-speaking lands are real mouthfuls in others.  Be careful how you say “I’m going to take the bus” in Mexico, or you might be saying “I’m going to f(have intimate sexual relations with)k the  bus.

Of course it works both ways.  Mexicans love to sprinkle English “majaderias” in their speech, with little idea how strong some of the words are to our ears.

I taught Junior High biology in Guadalajara for several years, and often (hourly, actually) had to remind my kids what words were off limits.

Then one day I asked little Beatrice to tell the class what “pollination” is.

This sweet, innocent eleven year old stands up—all four feet of her—smiles, and in a tiny voice says:

“Pollination is when a bee goes to one flower and gets the pollen and then takes that pollen to another plant and F#*ks that flower!”  She finished with a big smile, proud of her new volcabulary.

I tried to explain to Little Betty that we don’t use the “F” word, but the class was lost, and she was unexpectedly the hero.

Dan and Omar

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Categories

A sample text widget

Etiam pulvinar consectetur dolor sed malesuada. Ut convallis euismod dolor nec pretium. Nunc ut tristique massa.

Nam sodales mi vitae dolor ullamcorper et vulputate enim accumsan. Morbi orci magna, tincidunt vitae molestie nec, molestie at mi. Nulla nulla lorem, suscipit in posuere in, interdum non magna.