Benefits Of Learning To Swear In A Foreign Language

Okay, we all know those cretins who seem to know the swear words in every language, but don't know how to say hello, please, or thank you in even one foreign langauge. And we probably also know those judgmental prudes who refuse to ever learn any swear words because they don't want to seem untame, uncultured, unintelligent in their foreign language. I'm neither. But I do have an opinion...

Uncultured? Unintelligent?

I understand the "uncultured" argument. Without a doubt, there are endless situations in which the use of a swear word is like the use of a blunt instrument. When someone tells me they "don't give a crap", it's an empty, meaningless phrase which actually has a much smaller impact on me than if they had said, "I'm sorry, but I really don't care". The psychological and emotional impact of the latter can actually be quite severe and hurtful, whereas the former just sounds crass and yes, uneducated.

There can also be no doubt that an excessive use of swear words gives off a very abbrasive vibe. A friend who swears all the time might be fine to hang out with, but you'll have second thoughts about introducing them to an investor or a client. Or your parents.


I draw the line, though, when people tell me swearing is offensive. No person, act, or word has the power to offend. The only power anyone has over you is the power that you give them.

You see, when people are offended by swearing, they are really only offended by their own lack of control over what you say. They have an idea of how they think you should talk, and they are offended by your refusal to follow their plan.

But who are you to tell me what I'm allowed to say?

A word is only considered a "swear" word when a significant enough number of people agree that they do not want to hear it. But each group of people is subjective. In different company, that word holds absolutely no power to offend.

In fact, often, in the right company, a "swear" word has the power to amuse, to entertain, occasionally even to enlighten.

To swear or not to swear?

I believe that the best option is to choose the words that best reach the audience with whom you want to communicate. If you are talking to people who don't like "swear" words, your message will be better heard if you avoid suchs words. Once someone is offended, they stop listening to anything else you're saying.

But if your audience does not respond negatively — or indeed, responds favorably to such language — by all means, I'm in favor of their use. Effective communication means choosing the best word for the situation. And yes, sometimes, that's a "swear" word.

I'll end with an interesting video on the subject.

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Author: Yearlyglot
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  • Randy Yearlyglot

    Even if you don't plan on swearing they are important to know so you understand what is being said if someone is swearing at you.

  • Randy Yearlyglot

    Agreed. It's good to recognize it even if you're not going to do it yourself.

  • Randy Yearlyglot

    I’m not offended when others swear (in any language) but I choose not to do it. To me it doesn’t matter who I’m talking to. I believe more in expression than communication. I want to express what’s inside of me by using the best possible language to do just that. I don’t feel that swear words can do that job too well, so I’d rather leave them out of my speech.Great video, by the way. To me any part of language can give color and spice, even swear words. Whether you think it’s dirty or uneducated or just plain rude, you still have agree that the more “off-color” parts of language give a certain fluster. Some entertainers can really do wonders with that fluster.

  • Randy Yearlyglot

    I tend to agree with that. In general, I am fascinated with the precision of a well-yielded vocabulary, and I prefer to strive toward that. However, there are moments in the day when I find a good expletive to be the most well-suited way to express a point... usually toward a comedic goal.

  • Randy Yearlyglot

    I hate people that complain about that, too. I've even gotten to the point where if I get a dirty look from a parent because I swore within hearing range of their precious little crotch-fruit I just look back at them like they're a retard.Do it or don't do it, I don't care, but please don't complain when others do, and especially don't be condescending about it as if my choice to use that type of language is somehow indicative of my intelligence.Cheers,

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