Using taboo language in Englisch /Englische Schimpfwörter

Darrel Knutson, whom I mentioned in the last entry, has an excellent list of Vulgar Vocabulary on his website.

The list is divided into ‘What to say to a friend’ and ‘What to say in front of your mother’.

Opinions differ, and I’m afraid my mother would not have been a good yardstick, but it’s worth noting that many German speakers seem to think the F-word is used more widely in English than it in fact is (see comment from An Austrian at the bottom of this page.

Note that Darrel’s alternatives are for the USA. Perhaps we should translate it into British English! For instance, ‘shoot’ is US, and so are numerous other bits.

More on the topic at Wikipedia. The topic has also been touched on by Mark Liberman at Language Log.

3 thoughts on “Using taboo language in Englisch /Englische Schimpfwörter

  1. Hi Margaret

    Your assumption about the “F-word” is certainly true. I am one of the timekeepers for the Stuttgart ice hockey games (only the junior games usually Imight add). Germans love playing the “Who the F*** is Alice” song at such events…. the faces of the American parents change colour to anything ranging from bright pink to deep red everytime it’s played…


  2. Nice idea, unreliable execution. I gave up when I saw “Are you dirtying my sister?” offered as a “translation.” I can’t imagine any native speaker of American English saying such a thing in the 21st century (and I’d have to be convinced anyone ever did).

  3. @language hat: Yes, I thought that was really weird, even though I’m not American so I couldn’t be certain. If you don’t think anyone would say it, maybe it’s an example of that extreme sensitivity about these topics where the person just blurts out anything to avoid the direct term.

    Some of those common euphemisms really are different in BE and AmE. ‘Shoot’ might be replaced by ‘sugar’. Then I used to often hear ‘struth’. But I can’t remember a large number of them (perhaps I should get those two dictionaries of euphemisms off the shelf).

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