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Never easy for anglos to swear in French
Thread poster: PB Trans
PB Trans

Local time: 04:58
French to English
+ ...
Jun 10, 2006

The Toronto Star, June 10, 2006

NEVER EASY FOR ANGLOS TO SWEAR IN FRENCH

Now, thanks to the Catholic church, it's getting harder

There are many challenges for anglophones living in French Quebec, like when it's proper to use "tu" with someone rather than the more formal "vous." Or understanding why we must say "le video" (Mr. Video), but "la radio" (Mrs. Radio).

Yet, few tasks are more of a minefield than swearing in French, a mysterious subject that few Quebec anglos ever really grasp.

Most English language curses are crude insults, a mix of lower body parts and sexual acts, mixed with f-words, s-words and $&**#-words. But cursing in Québécois is less obvious to English ears because it sounds closer to prayer than profanity.

To swear in French, you must stop thinking sexually and start thinking spiritually, using religious words like "câlisse!" (which means "chalice!") and "tabernack!" (which means "tabernacle!").

The complete article is here: http://tinyurl.com/gu4hr



[Edited at 2006-06-10 22:18]


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Aurora Humarán  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 00:58
English to Spanish
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Spanish Jun 11, 2006

Pina Nunes wrote:

Most English language curses are crude insults, a mix of lower body parts and sexual acts, mixed with f-words, s-words and $&**#-words. But cursing in Québécois is less obvious to English ears because it sounds closer to prayer than profanity.



I guess most languages resort to body parts (most of the times exaggerating sizes ) and to sexual acts (sex = dirt). Spanish also resorts to religion. My great-grandfather (Basque) was a perfect example: the angrier he was, the more saints he included in his insults.


Good topic, Pina!

An excellent Argentine writer and cartoonist (Roberto Fontanarrosa) closed the III Congress of the Spanish Language (Argentina, 2004) speaking about 'taboo words'. Many people critized him for the topic he chose. I found it great, though. Curses (Spanish calls them 'bad words'...) exist and they are NEEDED.

It would be interesting to know if other languages also resort to sex/religion... (a paradox, come to think of it)

Au

[Edited at 2006-06-11 23:57]


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Özden Arıkan  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 05:58
Member
English to Turkish
Yes, they do, even at the other end of the world ;-) Jun 12, 2006

Aurora wrote:
It would be interesting to know if other languages also resort to sex/religion... (a paradox, come to think of it)


I bet, all languages do. But there's no genuine paradox here: birth and death, aren't they the two major traumas we never get over? What shall we curse at, if not them


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Aurora Humarán  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 00:58
English to Spanish
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Hola Jun 12, 2006

Özden Arıkan wrote:

But there's no genuine paradox here: birth and death, aren't they the two major traumas we never get over? What shall we curse at, if not them





Hi, Özden!

I was thinking of the Maslow Pyramid, with religion on its top (where most people place it) and sex among physiological needs (which is absolutely questionable, of course). So we resort to the most sacred things (let me add that my great-grandfather was VERY religious) or to the most 'wordly' things. As if more neutral areas did not give us inspiration when we need to express hatred, extreme fear etc.

Au

[Edited at 2006-06-12 11:06]


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Aisling O'Callaghan
English to Irish
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Ahh yes... Jun 12, 2006

... I was a bit surprised when I first heard swear words in Québec! It's interesting to note the connection to religious symbols... this didn't stop my French Canadian housemates from trying to teach me how to pronounce these words properly

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docteurmab
Local time: 23:58
English to French
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Saying a lot Jun 12, 2006

Swear words say a lot about the culture and history of a people. In Quebec and other parts of the world, the place of religion; for English Canada, the US, etc., how sex is viewed.

Thing is, in Hungarian, there's a lot of references to sex. And to horses, sometimes together. I don't know what's up with that.


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