CURSING AND BAD LANGUAGE


Fallen angels in Hell

Image via Wikipedia

In all languages you find swearing, cursing and other kinds of intentionally bad manners or negative attitude pronounced to or about something or someone. One thing that I have found though is that the intensity and effect of what’s been said varies a lot according to where you are at the moment. For instance, if the swearword is said as it is in Norway, it communicates as strongly as what’s intended alright. But, if you for instance translate it LITERALLY to Spanish, it might in fact be perceived as something rather comical.

Also within Norway (north, south, east or west), the meaning is more or less insulting. A man who called a policeman in Northern Norway a “hestkuk” (literally a horse-penis) was not fined for that, because in that part of the country this is one of the expressions that are used so often and regularly – just as an outburst – that it has no “libel and slander”-effect at all. (I have told friends in Spain about this “name”, and most smiled and say it’s in fact a compliment more than a bad name…).

Common all over the world is that there are very different words that can be used as obscene in different languages, but often they can be grouped three main groups, related to 1. Religion; 2. Feces and scatological swearing; and 3. Sex (including Insults of the mother, and related to having sex with own mother.

This is also a fact in both Norway and Spain. However, Norway has a quite distinct attention to Hell and Satan, while Spaniards got a quite heavy focus on sexual organs.

In Spain, the sex-focus is contrasting to the weight of the Catholic church, but it is very much an alive and vital part of the spoken language here. Also, the male goat, maybe both as the symbol of the Devil in general, but more likely as a description of the sexual beast, cabrón, is being used both with negative and positive meanings. This double sided meaning is recurring (f.ex. esto es la polla).

Norwegians also use creative names on sexual organs (f.ex. kødd, fitte), and also Norwegians use swearwords in a positive and a negative meaning, depending on the setting. BUT, it is clear that in large parts of the country, the three words Devil (faen or fanden)/Satan (satan), Hell (helvete) and and Devilish/Damn (jævli) – will be the only three swear words you will get to hear.

Have YOU got any thoughts of what the different attention to either Hell/Satan and Sex/Organs is a symptom of? Have Norwegians throughout times been so scared by the church that the hot place and its boss has become the worse? Have Spaniards had too much or too little sex, and in the dark, so that it has become a curse?

For Norwegian speakers I recommend this link to Wikipedia about Swearwords (Banneord)

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