International Swearing Made Easy For International Travelers

by SharonKurheg

When I was in grammar school, I was kind of a smart kid and was placed in a lot of “enrichment” classes. With that, I and my classmates were offered the opportunity to start learning a foreign language in 5th grade, instead of when we entered middle school in 6th grade (this was decades before bilingual or immersion programs were available).

I (well, rather my parents) accepted the opportunity, and I started learning Spanish at the tender age of 10.5. I continued with Spanish classes throughout middle school and most of high school (it wasn’t a requirement to take a foreign language for my final semester of high school, so I didn’t). By the time I graduated, I could hold my own in a conversation “en español,” and was proud that I could watch Spanish-language TV shows and understand about 75 to 80% of what was being said.

I became an occupational therapist after I graduated college. I continued to live in New York for several years, and had many Hispanic patients who spoke Spanish as their primary language. By that point, my español was admittedly a little rustier than when I was in high school. But if they could speak and understand a little English, between that and the Spanish I still had in my brain, plus my decent skills with miming as needed, we usually did just fine.

However as I forgot many Spanish words from lack of use (know how many times you get to use the words “eggplant,” “customer service” or “skyscraper” during an OT session? Not many), I was also picking up a few other words that the New York Public School system hadn’t taught me during all those years of their teaching me a foreign language – how to curse in Spanish. 😉

Yep, between patients who had salty vocabularies and helpful Spanish-speaking friends who filled in the blanks, I knew how to have a potty mouth in TWO languages!

Fast forward a couple of decades and I left the world of being an OT; lots of reasons that I could go into if we ever had a beer together. Unfortunately, without Hispanic patients to keep my skills fresh, I’d forgotten about 90% of my Spanish.

But do you know what? I still know every mutha effin’ swear word my patients and friends ever taught me! 😉

So this whole story brings me to a learning tool that a friend of mine told me about not long ago.

See, it’s one thing to go to a country and know how to speak the language (even when we went to Cuba in 2016, the little bit of Spanish I still knew went a LONG way). But if you can CURSE in the language? Then you’re golden in terms of (angry, frustrated & other negative emotional) self-expression. Well, if that sort of language is in your wheelhouse to begin with (I realize it’s not for everyone LOL) ;-). And if my experience is a good example, apparently once you learn these words, you’ll never forget them. 😉

And so…enter a card set called “How To F**king Swear Around The World.”

Produced by Juerrs, there are 20 cards in the set and each card gives you:

  • Country of origin
  • What the swear word is
  • Its translation in English
  • What language it is
  • How offensive it is, on a 5-star scale

Some of the words are from Albania, Armenia, Croatia, Democratic Republic of The Congo, Italy, the Philippines, etc.

I’m not going to show you an example of any of the cards because, well, we try to maintain a PG rating here at YMMV, and there was not one photo of a card on the company’s website that wasn’t rated R or worse ;-). But you can click here to look at them.

They sell another set of cards called “Rude Hand Gestures Around The World.” Not surprisingly, they’re similar to the swearing cards. But instead of teaching you curse words, they give you 20 offensive hand gestures from a variety of countries – how to make each gesture, what country or countries it’s used in, its social history, and how offensive it is on a 5-finger scale.

The card sets currently go for $16.98 each or $34.97 for the two combined (it’s not lost on me that $34.97 is more than $16.98 x 2). They also have some deals – “But 3, get 1 free,” “Buy 5, get 2 free,” and “Buy 8, get 3 free.”

Does anybody actually need these cards? Of course not. It’s easy enough to find the swear word you need on the internet (Google translate is not above curse words. I checked). Plus really, except for bragging rights, who needs to know how to say “f*ck you” in Italian, c*ck in Lingala, “a-hole” in Catalan and “kiss my @$$” in Danish? I’d want to know how to say all of those on ONE LANGUAGE, wouldn’t you?

But hey, the holidays are coming and it might be a nice stocking stuffer for your favorite traveler, so there ya go… 😉

*** Many thanks to Cookie W. for giving us a heads-up about this topic. You know me entirely too well 😉

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