I was thinking about Swearing…

Sweden just lost the hockey game against Czech Rep. so I used a few, Swedish profanities. They won’t go on to the finals.

This happened to coincide with a blog post in WordPress Daily Post about swearing. I’ve had all the good reasons to think about that subject, as swearing is so different in different languages. Even if I translate our [Swedish] swear words to English, they don’t have the same power! I just said «Hell!» to Gerry, and he didn’t raise an eyebrow … not «Satan» either.

To once again connect to the hockey theme, there was a player in the Boston Bruins named Satan, and in the beginning I found that funny to see a guy with Satan on his back, sliding along on the ice! This is one of the more serious swear words in my native tongue. ‘Hell’, is really bad too [helvete in Sw.]. Imagine, you English-speakers, if you were to see the name B*st*rd! 😆

When I came to Canada, eight years ago, I thought I had a reasonably, good command of the English language. That may have been true … up to a point, but I had a lot of stuff to penetrate, and still do. Swearing being one. I knew the words, but not the ‘seriousness’ of them. Another thing that was new to me was the habit on TV to use terms like «the F-word». At first I didn’t know what they meant with those ‘letter-words’. We don’t have that in Sweden — either they say the real word or they don’t. Not the beeping for censored words on TV either.

I now live in North America, so I’ll act accordingly: The F-word has made it big time into the Swedish language [and probably many other, European languages], but it’s being used very lightly and even by little children. It has less ‘power’, compared to our native swear words.

Quebec, where I lived for five years, has its own set of French swear words … a French person from France finds them funny or ancient sounding, I’ve been told (I don’t speak French at all).  They don’t have any power at all to the people in France…

The Devil is frequently used as a swear word in Swedish, and it’s a bad, serious one. Even though many hockey teams in Sweden have taken on English names [Timrå Red Eagles, for example], something corresponding to the New Jersey Devils would never fly … I do think that would be off limits. The actual word for it [djävulen] is often used in an altered form [jäklar], which is much ‘milder’. This is similar to when people here say ‘darn’ instead of damned.

This part, about altering the words, leads me to when I was reading a whole series of novels … a word kept coming back, I didn’t understand it, but it had no importance for the context so it took very long time before I even brought it up with Gerry. I just kept reading these books at night, and the characters kept saying ‘dadgummit’?! It was just a funny-sounding word to me, and I would never, ever have figured out what it was they really meant, had I not asked.

28 Replies to “I was thinking about Swearing…”

  1. I find the different languages and culture so interesting, this is very good reading! Dadgummit is a phrase or term used in the southeast U.S. to express dismay or other things. Not sure if it’s used elsewhere in the States. My wife is from California, she states the term is used there as well. Your comment about Satan sliding on the ice is hilarious!

    1. Glad you liked it. I was a little hesitant to write this post … some people might get offended, just by reading certain words ..I dunno..

      Yeah, I thought that was funny about the hockey player, but they pronounced it ‘sat-AHN’… with the stress on the second syllable..

      1. That’s what my wife said about him. We are Red Wing fans, and it stunk when they were booted from the playoffs… 😦

        1. Yeah, I think so too. Many Swedes on the Red Wings team. I thought perhaps I’d see Nick Lidstrom on the Swedish team now in the World Championship, but not so … severals others though..

    1. Thanks, Mags! yeah, they’re very different … in Quebec it was all about church things ‘tabernacle’ was a swear word, from what I understood. But they’re used more or less frequently everywhere … sometimes so often so they tend to lose their ‘power’…. like eating antibiotics too often — it loses its effect..

  2. Words are funny things. Curse words are funnier, as they morph from “bad” to “eh, who cares”. “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn” in Gone With the Wind caused some brouhaha at the time of release.
    Of course, legend has it that Exxon would be Enco except that enco means stalled car in Japanese.

    1. I didn’t know that … about Exxon.

      «Frankly, my duck, I don’t give a ….quack» it says on a T-shirt I have 😀

  3. Interesting post. When my (Texas) English classes read Pygmalion, they couldn’t understand why Eliza Doolittle’s “Not bloody likely” was shocking to the others in the drawing room. They said they could think of a number of other words that would be good substitutes. But with their lack of knowledge of “bloody’s” history, and of the culture, they were underwhelmed.

    1. Yes, that’s exactly the way I felt in the beginning here too, about certain words. Many, I knew were profanities, but I didn’t know to what ‘degree’, so to speak..

      Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting!

  4. I do cuss, but only to myself, or in my journal. I try not to in public. A good friend from South Africa could cuss like a sailor in English. The words meant little to him. But to say the same words in Afrikaans — he could never do that!!! They were horrible!!! I do know the Swedish cuss words. And a few in Spanish.

    One question. Why do sometimes when a swede swears, they use the work for 17 with the swear words. Sjutton. Does that make is worse or what? I know the settlers here all did that.

    1. Wonderful! I have a question too: the word cuss vs. curse ?! Is there a difference, or is it locally?

      Sjutton 17, that’s like darn instead of damned. People who are so holy so even if they’d put their hand on a hot iron, wouldn’t swear …they’d probably say «fy sjutton» instead 😀 An ordinary person would say «fy faan», but sjutton replaces all other swear words..

  5. Thanks for your comment over on the DP. If you followed my link on there you would see I wrote about Spanish swearing, and the difference in cultural linguistics which is not dissimilar to your post above. Fancy hell and Satan being so bad though!!

    PS I love your photos, they are superb.

      1. That quote was said at the end of one episode of Criminal Minds. It spoke to me …enough to memorize it and to google it afterwards ..

    1. Yes, and that put a big smile on my face..
      Yes Satan is a really bad one … of course, it also depends on the context, and how it’s said …like everywhere else.

      Thank you, about the photos 🙂

  6. I work in a high school, so swearing is something I am inundated with on a daily basis. I’m not much of a swearer myself (I have to be really made before I’ll utter a four letter word), but it seems those once forbidden words are becoming much more common.

    1. they’re losing their ‘power’ … like any other over-used word or anything else, for that matter.
      I would imagine you get to hear a great deal, working in a high school!

  7. I think maybe I swear a little too much. The F*** word is very, very used here in DK by all. The same is S***. Sometimes I use merde or scheisse But it hasnt the same weight and meaning as in Britten, France or Germany.
    You Swedes always seem so civilized – so swearing – almost impossible LOL. I know one : Fy Fan (I love it – they way you say it). I am soon going on holiday in Öland, maybe I should ask for more swearing.
    Here in DK we dont beep swear words, but some American programs they show are beeped from they it come.

    1. Annette,
      I think the F-word is losing its force in Swedish …so many young people use it all the time. Before that word and the ‘mthrfckr’ came into play, we were rather limited to ‘fy faan’ and so on. Satan is pretty serious business… and if you tell anyone to ‘go to Hell’, depends on how you say it, but that’s serious too.
      I like Scheisse ROFL..

  8. I’ve often heard that one swears because they do not have other words in their vocabulary to use.
    When younger, I would swear. Not seeing to many people these days, I find less to swear about! 🙂

    1. They used to tell me that, when I was young too … that it was a lack of vocabulary. I don’t think that’s always the truth. Somestimes I think it’s habitual… And yes, the less people you see… 😉

  9. I was always puzzled as to why “bloody” and “bugger” were such strong no-no’s in England. Even knowing their history, it still puzzles me. But that’s exactly the cultural gap you’re talking bad, I think. Sh-t is still a pretty strong word here in the US, but merde and scheisse are not that strong (impolite, but not so strong) in their native countries. Really interesting post.

    1. When I first came here, I had in the back of my mind that ‘bloody’ was very strong. What puzzled me the most, at first, was the habit of saying things like «the f-word» [replace f with any letter that fits]. Also, all the darn, dang and the beeps on TV 🙂 Scheisse is a good word …feels good to say it at times..
      Thank you!

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