Wednesday, March 22, 2006

It’s not big and it’s not clever

Des and I got onto the subject of swearing on Monday, after a particularly vitriolic display of Tourettes from Des in a comment about Putin. While everything that he said was unarguably true, he was belatedly overcome with remorse at the thought that my innocent sprogs might read it and be warped forever, bless his little cotton socks.

For better or worse there is no danger of that sort of damage being done, as my kids are already fluent in the foulest imaginable profanities that the Hungarian language has to offer, which make their anglophone equivalents wilting flowers by comparison. I have lived in eight different countries, mostly in central or eastern Europe, and have heard every expletive that the words “Communist”, “Russian” and “Gypsy” can provoke, and in all that time I have never met a match for Hungarian’s broad vocabulary and imaginative metaphors, nor for the enthusiasm with which both are deployed by the populace, without regard to age, sex or social class.

To this day I vividly recall hearing a sweet silver-haired granny with her shopping caught in a tram door describe uses for a horse’s cock that would make a docker pale, all while her cherubic grandkids looked on unfazed. There must have been a good fifteen permutations, all of them a rare combination of the graphic and yet strangely plausible, in a tirade lasting long enough for the tram to reach the next stop and the doors open again, whereupon she got off in a huff to the spontaneous applause of her fellow passengers.

I’m therefore going to stick my neck out and nominate lófasz (horseprick) as the most powerful swearword in any language anywhere ever. What say, my globetrotting crew – can you beat that?

Additional bonus question: Complete the following sentence in ten words or less:
I think swearing is both big and clever because…


What's everyone looking at me for?

19 comments:

Sam, Problem-Child-Bride said...

I think swearing is both big and clever because it is as good, if not better than both garlic and oat-bran at reducing blood pressure and eating them is clever and therefore swearing is clever too. And it's big because, like in German and Lego and flat-pack fencing, you can create huge great enormous compound ones like you arsewallopingwankyfuckhead, you. And other ones.

You're right about 'horseprick' though - hard to beat. Having said that, I do have a friend who loves his llamas and says you can't get any better than a bit of llamaprick.

Sam, Problem-Child-Bride said...

Just saw the 10 words or less bit. Feel foolish now and raw and exposed and open to ridicule and the scorn of others and also feel like I need a cup of tea because I have now officially been up most of the night blogging, since I got in from our weekly pub quiz/pal's birthday celebrations. Holy poo, where'd the time go?

Foot Eater said...

May I please nominate the Afrikaans word bosbevok, an Army term which describes the state of going mad after prolonged exposure to extreme stress in the covert bush wars the apartheid state waged in the seventies and eighties. It literally means 'fucked by the bush'.

I think swearing is both big and clever because my parents were against it.

staghounds said...

I'll stick to "goat fucker" in English.

But I'll steal hovasz and bosbevok too.

I think swearing is both big and clever because "it provides a relief denied even to prayer".

Aunty Marianne said...

Mal baisée. A French term to describe a woman who is mean and bitchy because she's being badly f**ked, which as everyone knows is much worse than not being f**ked at all.

It's very effective when being cut up in traffic jams.

Desargues said...

Again, I have no direct knowledge of this, but I have it from reasonably reliable sources. They tell me the Huns have an ever fiercer coinage, something about God's own divine appendage breaking inside someone's derriere. Stallions may sport mighty fifth legs, but I'll bet a monotheistic deity's trouser snake beats that by a mile.

I think swearing is both big and clever because... fuck! Ivan, you did that on purpose! 'Because' requires a genitive, and that's at least TWO more words to complete a minimal sentence. Which makes eleven in total, at the very least. Menj a picsába!

Ivan the Terrible said...

No probs, Sam - no-one's judging you here. We've all pulled the occasional all-nighter, haven't we guys?

German may have long words, but that's no substitute for creativity, which is hardly their strong suit.

Footie, Stags, Aunty M, many thanks for your nominations. Aunty's in particular brought on a wave of nostalgia for Parisian traffic jams :)

And Des, that's ten words after the word "because". Somebody needs their coffee...

By the way, to really put the tin hat on "Menj a picsába!", you need to add the word "mother's", as in "Menj az anyja picsába!" Now you're cooking.

Desargues said...

I was having my coffee when I wrote that, so it's not stimulants I was lacking; it's linguistic acumen. But how 'bout a little credit here, pal? I completed the whole damn sentence in less than ten words, and it doesn't sound too unrealistic, does it?

Gorilla Bananas said...

...because it offends humans. It doesn't work on lions or crocodiles, though. They just ignore it and carry on eating you.

Ivan the Terrible said...

I'll give you that. Des. But is "I think swearing is both big and clever because... fuck! Ivan, you did that on purpose!" really your final answer?

GB, you seem to imply that people swear because they can't eat their enemies. So our barks are literally worse than our bites. Is that why violent people (soldiers, psychopaths, the Japanese, etc) are often so polite? Puts a whole other spin on "speak softly and carry a big stick"...

Desargues said...

OK, Ivan, you asked for it; plus, you said your offspring is kept away from this den of linguistic debauchery. So here's my lame two-cents' worth: swearing is both big and clever because it takes balls to go 'fuck!'

Ivan the Terrible said...

Not bad, Des - not perfection, but not bad at all...

Desargues said...

Gosh, you gotta love British understatement. The mark of truly civilized peoples. Thanks, Ivan, that's really kind of you. But I'm afraid I can't blush over being complimented for a swearword. My ears were red already.

R. Sherman said...

Popping in late, as usual, having spent the day foolishly working. Form my money, the simple American F-bomb is still the best, if for no other reason than its versatility. No other word can be used as every part of speech.

Cheers.

Desargues said...

A very good point, Mr Sherman. Or, to pay hommage to your comment, fun-fuckin'-tastic.

Ivan the Terrible said...

No offence meant, Des - you were the first to actually swear in your answer. Definitely a step in the right direction :)

And Randall, when I was a lad, dropping the f-bomb was something you did in your brother's bedroom before running back to your own and barricading the door. The swearing was all on the part of the victim...

Chris said...

My late father-in-law was an admirer of the Nigerian expletive, 'bastard spawn of a prostitute's arsehole.'

Erika said...

I agree that horseprick can't be surpassed. This is why.

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