Arts, Culture & Media

Grandmothers have the best curse words

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Credit:

Mobilus in Mobili

This week on The World in Words podcast we talk about swear words from around the world and the bad words our grandmothers teach us. 

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We hear from swearologist Stephen Dodson and author Marilyn Chin. Plus, Nina Porzucki interviews her grandmother about the meaning of a Polish word.

Podcast Contents:

00:30 Nina shares a Polish curse word that she learned from her grandmother: cholera jasna

01:20 Patrick shares his least favorite Danish swear word, which translates literally to “cancer devour me”

02:49 Beginning of an interview with Stephen Dodson. He blogs at languagehat.com. He’s also the co-author of “Uglier than Monkey’s Armpit,” a book about swearing around the world

03:58 “Half the fun of a well crafted insult is the sound of the words,” says Dodson

04:21 Curses are regional. The “Buttocks Belt”

05:00 In Quebec, many curse words are religious in origin

06:12 Do new swear words develop after new geopolitical events?

07:50 Is there a language in the world that doesn’t have curses?

08:18 “Russian has one of the most vivid, wide-ranging and powerful of curses,” says Dodson

08:42 Swear words are held in a different part of the brain

09:30 An anecdote about the “s-word”

10:34 “Don’t call me stupid” — A Fish Called Wanda

12:55 An anecdote from The World’s Marco Werman about a curse word his Dutch grandmother taught him

14:00 Nina’s first story for the podcast from 2009, about a Yiddish word her grandmother taught her — “dafke”

18:14 Patrick speaks with poet and novelist Marilyn Chin. Her first novel is “Revenge of the Mooncake Vixen.”

19:00 Chin grew up speaking a dialect of Cantonese, Taishanese

19:23 Chin would speak with her grandmother in this dialect

20:00 Chin is the oldest of her siblings and the only one who has held on to her native tongue. She speaks with her siblings in English

21:09 How has multilingualism affected Chin’s poetry and writing

24:00 Chin speaks about her grandmother cursing and things she’d say in dialect

26:31 Tongue twister in Taishanese

27:30 Tweet us your favorite curse words from your grandmother — @lingopod