Swearing

I hadn’t really realized how awful it actually was, until I moved abroad. New colleagues pointed out that swearing with diseases isn’t really a normal thing to do, however, we Dutch do it a lot. We use all sorts of diseases when we swear at ourselves (“klere!” – an old word for cholera) or wish others the most horrible things (“krijg de tiefus/tering/klere!” – “get typhus/tuberculosis/cholera!”, synonymous for “fuck you!”). Some diseases are more accepted then others, where using cancer is really pushing it (although definitively heard). And next to all this, we use genitalia a lot.

What I noticed is that in Swedish using genitalia to swear is considered very rude. While in Dutch “kut” (vagina) is used in the same way as the English word “shit” (even though it’s direct translation would be cunt”), using the same word in Swedish (“fitta”) is somewhat of a no-go.

Swedes tend to swear with things that relate to hell or the devil, which, being used to swearing using diseases and genitalia, sounds rather silly and decent. English speakers would say “what the fuck?!”, while Swedes would say “vad fan?!”, which translates to “what the hell?!”, or more directly “what the devil?!”. Also “jävlar” (damn) is heard a lot, which comes from the word djävul (devil). The same goes for “jävla” that is used to amplify adjectives (“det var jävligt gott!”“that was fucking tasty!”), that also seems to come from something that has to do with the devil.

So I think from now on I’ll be using “devilishly tasty!” or “duivels lekker!”.

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