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Igor
Swearing in native and in second languages. Cultural differences.
The other day I've come across a lecture for students of linguistic about swear words and swearing as the layer of the language culture. Swearing is rather expressive way of speaking, idiomatic, may be witty and fun, and can bear a variety of meanings, which makes speech more emotional and colourful. And in some way it is a sort of a shibboleth, used among close friends for making a close cosy atmosphere. There was also a note about experiments done on real people to look for their reaction, who were asked to put their hands into very cold water; the persons who unconsciously uttered swearings at that moment were able to hold their hands in cold even longer than those who did not. But it was only working for those who did not have a usual habit of swearing, but only used it in hard and crucial moments of their lives.

Also there was a note about the social apprehension of swearing in different languages, which is different in different cultures. On that account, as I get it that the f-words in English is not accepted by society in the same shocking way as in German or in Russian (which is my native language), for example. Probably, I can say it because in the second language swearing is not perceived with the same gravity as it is native languages.

Recently I watched a TV-series called 'Defending Jacob'. Rather decent people in decent situations - the lawyers, school teachers, policemen talking to public - in some episodes there used a bit of f-words, which in Russian dubbed version sounded quite weird as the translators had used there a great variety variety of Russian 3-letter words, as we call them; and the scenes looked like rather as the characters were not lawyer, teacher, etc., but a bunch of chavs. That was not the official dubbing, if to be noted, though.

There is also I've found a small book, supposedly for children, but probably it's just a banter, who knows. I give here a link to it read by Samuel L. Jackson. That story reminds me of a grandfather of one of my friends, who used to tell a night story in a kind soothing voice to his toddler grand daughter. The story was about dark forests, wolves, heavy storm winds, cosy bead, etc.; and how the wolf was hauling, "У-у-у...заебу-у-у-у..." (like "Who-oo-oo... I'll f@ you-oo-oo...") imitating the sound of wind. And I would say, that even it was funny, it sounded quite fine, the child could not speak yet at the moment at all.

Anyway, to make it short, here is a Stephen Fry quotation saying, “The sort of twee person who thinks swearing is in any way a sign of a lack of education or a lack of verbal interest is just a fucking lunatic.”

What is your opinion on the matter?
the lecture: https://youtu.be/GIjaWouMlAY
the Jackson's reading: https://youtu.be/Cb0t9TUNLpg
May 29, 2020 4:01 PM
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Comments · 6
Wow! This is an old post but I will comment on it. Personally, I don’t swear. I don’t like it and it makes me feel uncomfortable. However, I know it in one of my target languages and some incidental words in Spanish that I can understand without studying.
It does help you to understand it well and gives you cultural context. When I was in the UAE, I found it interesting when I discovered that people swore in Arabic would immediately do it in English. It made me wonder just exactly what they were saying to each other in Arabic.
Many Americans swear as a daily activity. I do not do this as I don’t feel comfortable with it. It is complicated when you don’t use them and everyone around you constantly uses them.
July 24, 2020
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August 11, 2020
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August 8, 2020
It was an old saying about a real gentlemen, who is the one who calls the cat always a cat, even he has tumbled over it and had a nasty fall.
July 31, 2020
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July 25, 2020
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Igor
Language Skills
English, Greek, Japanese, Mongolian, Russian
Learning Language
English