Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Sweet! Chinese Swears

So I made a new Chinese friend last night through a Japanese classmate of mine, and he's very cool. Smart too. Fucker speaks excellent english, some cantonese, and good Japanese as well. Works at CCTV - I may have to try to exploit that connection.

It's good to have a male Chinese friend because most of the students offering to be language partners are female, and while that's fine, given the cultural rules concerning male/female interactions, I definitely would not ask a female language partner to teach me any of those oh-so-interesting words that you don't find in the dictionary.

I don't know if there's a definitive book out there on Chinese swearing, but there should be, because it's cool and interesting, and definitely full of insights into the culture. Anyway, without further ado, some gems from my new friend.

"I fuck your eight generations of ancestors" (wo3 cao4 ni3 zu3 zong1 de ba1 bei4r)

Fuck off/fuck yourself - literally "pull your dick inverted" (la1 ji1 ba dao3)

Fuck off/fuck yourself - literally "roll your dick into a young calf" (gun3 ji1 ba du2 zi)

This one I knew for a long time, but wang2 ba1 dan4, which means "turtle egg" is usually translated as bastard, but occupies essentially the same place in the language as motherfucker - questioning someone's parentage is generally pretty serious in China.

"stupid cunt" - sha3 bi1 - a favorite of Beijing taxi drivers having to stop for another car or a pedestrian.

Another intersting thing is that the closest analogue of dammnit is "ta1 ma1 de" which means "his mom (possesive)". It can be used alone or like the F-word in the english language, as an adverb, adjective, or emphatic word. Sweet.

It's not surprising that most of these words are male-oriented - in the past women weren't even supposed to leave the house (nei4 ren2 - inside people), and just going out in public unaccompanied was looked down upon, let alone using such salty language with others.

Now, of course, Chinese women are out working, shopping, doing almost everything men are doing. Behavorial standards continue to be different - women don't drink or smoke nearly as much, and there is certainly still a lot of sexism, but it will interesting to see how this aspect of the language evolves as women start to participate in the less seamly parts of public life.

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