My mind, my thoughts, my words


Maybe this is just something I believe to have picked up from somewhere even though I actually made it up myself, but even if so, it doesn’t sound wrong to say: Speak in English*, Amour (i.e. love in French*) and Schweinehund (i.e. swear in German*) . Probably more due to syntactic structures, English seems to be a good language to express ideas in a logical, clear manner (feel free to comment and expand on this – I want to focus on something different in this post…). Phonologically, that French “mumbling” makes it sound soft and just nice to have that ‘love-chit-chat’ in (who doesn’t know that oh-so-famous “Voulez-vous coucher avec moi?”?) and many people would say that German is a particularly good language to swear in due to its rather harsh sounds.

However, swearing is not just about sounds.


German is actually said to have a rather poor vocabulary of swear words and has even started to borrow from other languages; Fuck! Shit! (scheiße seems to have lost its meaning, overused) ^1 ^2
Kind of depends on what website you look at though. This website boosts with 2,750-ish German swear words. However, a great deal isn’t actually swear words (Schalentier! (crustacean) ) and another lot not used at all (I’ve never ever heard the word Schlibradoni before. But it sounds great. My new favourite (not-existing?) German word 🙂 ).
Some websites, on the other hand, understate a bit (ehm, yes, wiki’s list of English swear words contains only 28).
Others list about 48 German swear words or 90 French ones. More realistic?

After all, it’s probably just a matter of your feeling towards a language and your lexicon. (Not many swear words there? Be creative and make some up!)

I personally love to swear in French. Maybe that’s the point, that it doesn’t really sound ‘bad’… 😉

*I’m focusing on English, German and French because I know these languages quite well. Of course there are hundreds and thousands of other languages that may be even more suitable for swearing & co.

Other links

  1. Discussion on “The Best Language for Swearing?”
  2. Another discussion on “Best Foreign Language to Swear In?”

One comment on “Schlibradoni

  1. Schlawinerin

    I’m not sure about your argument that the phonological properties of a language make it more suitable for a particular purpose. In my experience you stop hearing the softness of French, the harshness of German or any other stereotypical feature of a language once you speak it well enough. Does “Schweinehund” or “Vollidiot” sound any more rough than “bastard” or “wanker”? Is “je t’aime” more tender than “I love you”? And what does English sound like anyway?
    So I agree, it’s really mostly about your feelings towards a language and I personally find that the more emotional I get (be that in a positive or a negative way) the more I’m drawn to my native language. Nothing hits quite as close to home, if I want it or not…

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This entry was posted on 25/03/2011 by in Academia, Linguistic Musings and tagged .
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