Today is European Day of Languages. It was founded to celebrate linguistic diversity in Europe. Did you know that there are over 200 European languages? And that’s before you add in all the languages spoken by people who’s families originate from outside Europe.
The EDL was set up jointly by the European Union and the Council of Europe. It’s aim is to promote diversity of language. And to encourage language learning. Their website says “Even if you only know a few words of the language of the country that you visit, this enables you to make new friends and contacts.” Erm, they obviously haven’t been learning the same words as us then !
Language diversity is a great thing to celebrate. But we wouldn’t be doing our job if we didn’t take you into the darker recesses of European languages would we?
Just about every language in the world has it’s profanities. And they mostly hinge on bodily functions, sex and genitalia or god and religion. But what is completely taboo in one country, might be pretty tame in another.
Depending on where you are, the culture and religion of a country, words will have different significance. According to the BBC, curses involving mothers (mother-fucker, son of a bitch …) are more common “where Mary is co-star with Jesus” (ie where there are plenty of Catholics), and not so much in others. Apparently, in Finland for instance, mother-based swearing will just confuse. Female genitalia tends to be at the top of the taboo list in most countries. But in the Scandinavian and neighbouring countries, it’s equalled by hell and the devil. Some of Finland’s rudest words are saatana (Satan), perkele (devil – or more accurately, a pre-Christian god of thunder), and helvetti (Hell). None of which carry much weight in English. At least not these days. (Though the Helvetti were also, according to Wikipedia, a Gallic tribe in Switzerland in the 1st century. Language is confusing!)
In Sweden skit (shit) isn’t a very strong word. It’s the sort of thing you can say in polite society. Breaking from the god-sex-poo rules of swearing, Poland and the Netherlands add in death and disease. “Cholera!” can be used as an exclamation in Poland (though it seems to be going out of fashion). And just add “cancer” (kanker) to anything in Dutch and it becomes a rude insult. This must be quite upsetting in hospital oncology departments?
OK, so less of the theory, you say, lets get on with the practice. Well, our knowledge of European languages stops pretty much at the border, so to speak. But we’ve picked up a few useful words on our travels. And sourced a few for you too. On European Day of Languages it is beholden of you to swear in other languages. So go for it or ihre Mutter saugt Schwiene and Du bist ein Arschge fiktes Suppenhunt. Apols for our German grammar, or lack thereof. Like we say, we ain’t no experts. If you speak any of these languages, feel free to tell us if we’ve got it wrong.
Useful Insults and Expletives in European Languages!
|Shit||Fuck! Hell! And other expletives||Fuck off/piss off/get lost and other useful insults|
|German||Scheisse||Mach es dir selber|
|French||Merde||Putain||Vas pisser dans les fleur|
|Danish||For helvede||Pis af
|Spanish||Mierde||Joder!||Que te den por culo|
|Italian||Cazzo||Figlio di puttana|