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"I have sampled every language, French is my favourite - fantastic language, especially to curse with. Nom de Dieu de putain de bordel de merde de saloperie de connard d'enculé de ta mère. It's like wiping your ass with silk, I love it."[1]
The Merovingian, The Matrix Reloaded

"As Hazel marched up the hill, she cursed in Latin. Percy didn't understand all of it, but he got son of a gorgon, power-hungry snake, and a few choice suggestions about where Octavian could stick his knife."

The use of foreign curses that, in their country of origin, would be considered much more offensive to use on television or outright censored. Sometimes the pronunciation is deliberately mangled to obscure it even more. On American television, British and Spanish swears (especially cojones) are popular.

Japanese media sometimes uses rather strong English swears in a rough context, and often uses the "giving the finger" gesture as an expression of general displeasure in works for younger audiences where it would be considered unacceptable in the U.S. and other English-speaking countries.

Compare Pardon My Klingon, Unusual Euphemism, Did Not Do the Bloody Research, and Foreign Language Tirade. Sometimes an adjunct of Poirot Speak. Often a way of Getting Crap Past the Radar.

Examples of Foreign Cuss Word include:

Anime and Manga

  • Since her voice actress speaks German with some degree of fluency, Asuka's dialogue in the original TV and movie dubs of Neon Genesis Evangelion is periodically peppered with German swearing.
    • In the Manga (Japanese and English) that is literally the first word out of her mouth (actually, "Scheiße!", as written). Second if you count a filler exclamation sound as a word.
    • The eight episode's Japanese voice track has the antagonistic UN admiral saying a clearly audible English "shit" to his second-in-command before continuing in Japanese. It's present on the German subtitles as well.
  • Konjiki no Gash Bell: Ensemble Darkhorse Victoream regularly uses the phrase "Very shit" on a show generally targeted at a younger age group. Generally translated for American audiences as "Very bad".
  • Axis Powers Hetalia has Italy being sent back to Germany in a box with "Fuck" written on it. The ones who sent him in that box were America and England.
  • Genshiken Had a whole slur in the anime episode where one of the American otaku compliments ogiue on her Yaoi doujinshi, in the manga the words were blurred out, but in the anime, no censorship was given since the American spoke English, leading a lot of viewers to a very sudden 'when Chihiro spooged all over his glasses it was so hot! And then he started to butt fuck him and-" more or less.
  • In the Japanese Sonic X episode 2, Sonic literally says "Shit!" when he is detected by security.
  • As does Mic Sounders the 13th in GaoGaiGar episode 26 while dodging missiles.
  • Panty and Stocking With Garterbelt uses this trope quite liberally.
  • Somewhat subverted in Black Lagoon, as Revy, Cluster F-Bomb that she is, drops them regularly (moreso when she's upset - the curses appear as onomatopoeiae!), but, unlike the aforementioned Asuka (who is bilingual) she speaks just English.


  • Played With in one sketch by German comedian Didi Hallervorden. Context: A prisoner gets a visit by his wife (or gf), but all the time they have Didi as a kind of chaperone who will honk a horn and give them minus points whenever they get too lovey-dovey and/or obscene. This gets pretty ridicilous, and the prisoner protests. Then...

 Didi: "What's your name anyway?"

Prisoner: "Slotchkovsky!"

Didi (honks twice and gives four minus points)

Prisoner: "What was that for now?!"

Didi: "Do you think I don't understand Polish?!"



  • During the early run of New Mutants, Sunspot got away with swearing by doing it in Portuguese.
    • This continued in the original run of X-Force, both for Sunspot (in Portuguese) and his teammate Rictor (in Spanish).
  • Colossus from the X-Men would sometimes swear in Russian in his early appearances. The word would even be written in Cyrillic characters to obscure it further.
    • Although he usually used "chyort vozmee...!", which just means "the devil take ...!" Similarly Nightcrawler would sometimes shout "zum Teufel!" (to the devil), usually with hilarious misspellings.
  • Victor of Runaways once used the Spanish curse word cabrón.
    • And when he was turned to speaking binary, the first thing he said was WTF?
  • Characters in Nikolai Dante frequently exclaim "Diavolo!" when surprised or annoyed.
  • In Maus, at one point, Art and his father Vladek are speaking in Polish with English subtitles. Art's father swears, and the Polish contains the actual word (cholera) but the English subtitle simply says "@#%$!"
  • Julie Doucet's best-known comic, Dirty Plotte, has a strong French swear word right in the title.

Fan Fiction

  • The CSI: NY fic "Wrong Place,Wrong Time" has Mac overhearing Stella swearing in Greek after she was slightly injured and the hospital wanted to keep her overnight for observation.
  • One of Cori Falls's later fics has Giovanni swearing in Italian when Jessie and James tell him about their IDs being tampered with and their, ahem, "misfortunes" in dealing with Ash.


  • In an old 1950's war film, The Thousand Bomber Raid, an American actor playing a British pilot called a friend "toss-pot". While correct for the period (1940's), it just means wanker, and was more offensive then, so it's probably an 'under the radar' word for the scriptwriter.
  • In The Matrix, The Merovingian likes to swear in French, claiming "It's like wiping your ass with silk."
    • His above quote translates to something like Holy damned bullshity fucking motherfucking shitting son of a bitch, or something like that. It is literally "name of God of the whore of the whorehouse of sh*t of sluttery of an idiot of (someone receiving anal) of your mother". Yeah. French allows you to just tack on curse word after curse word with no real grammar involved. French Canadians have a sort of swearing dialect called "sacre" where they combine profanities with terms from Catholic liturgy to create whole paragraphs' worth of nothing but cuss words.
  • Young Frankenstein. "He would have an enormous schwanzstucker!"
    • Schwanzstueck, though nonexistent, literally means "tail piece" in German. However, Schwanz is also used as a slang term meaning "penis."
    • Similarly, Johann Krauss' "Suck my ectoplasmic schwanzstucker!" at the end of Hellboy II: The Golden Army
  • Some of the background characters in Titanic swear in Swedish. "Jävla helvete, det är vatten på golvet!" ("Bloody hell, there's water on the floor!")
  • Bon Cop, Bad Cop has a little lesson about the usage of the word "tabarnak".
  • Peter Stormare delivers a line of curse words in Swedish in The Lost World. "Helvete. Helvete Jävlar. Fan!" Translates to something like "Hell. Bloody hell. Damn!"
  • In Bill and Teds Excellent Adventure, Napoleon attempts bowling. When he rolls a gutterball (the force pitching him onto his face), he shouts, "Merde! Merde merde merde merde merde merde!" (shit shit shit shit... [repeat ad nauseam])
  • Austin Powers is quite fond of shagging, which sounds merely funny and innocuous to American ears.
  • Every french Canadian remembers Justin Timberlake's HORRIBLE attempt to say Tabarnak in The Love Guru
  • Johnny English
  • In the Get Smart film, the Russian farmer who went to check on who crashed into his barn was swearing pretty profusely. In fact, most of the Russian phrases were ad-libbed by the actors. On the other hand, the farmer couple who sees Max and 99 in a Ferrari do not say "holy shit", as the subtitles suggest but merely blin (literally "pancake"; as a cuss word, close to "darn"), which is pretty mild.
  • The Hispanic agent in Balls of Fury calls a bad guy a pendejo.
  • In JFK, during the scene when Willie O'Keefe recalls the night David Ferrie explained the plan to assassinate Kennedy after a party, one of the exiled Cubans calls Khrushchev hijo de la gran puta (son of the Great Whore). Arguably, the worst insult one can say in Spanish. Yet, some official hearing impaired subtitles tone it down translating it as "bastard".
  • Tuco shouts two similar Spanish curses in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. First, when being carried tied-up into town, he shouts out "¡Hijo de puta te que parió!" ("Son of the bitch who whelped you!"). Then, when Blondie abandons Tuco in the desert, Tuco yells the big one: "¡Hijo de una gran puta!" ("You son of a big whore!").
    • The first one is grammatically incorrect though. It has to be either "hijo de puta" or "la puta que te parió".
  • Subverted in the 1948 film I Remember Mama. The youngest daughter, Dagmar, is in the hospital after surgery for mastoiditis. When her Uncle Chris comes in to visit her, he teaches her what he says is a Norwegian swear word: "dumme gjet." (His explanation is that the swearing helps ease the pain. Off the back of some recent research, that's Truth in Television.) When a shocked nurse upbraids him for teaching a kid to swear, he informs her that "dumme gjet" actually means "stupid old goat."
  • In Bunraku, Yoshi says the Japanese equivalent of 'shit' when he realizes he's surrounded in the bar. Unlike the rest of the Japanese in the movie, it's not subtitled.


  • In the Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer, Fairies often use the Gnomish curse word "D'arvit". It's noted in the first book that "if translated into English, this book would not be allowed to be published."
  • A minor (but suitably irritating) character in Joseph Heller's Catch-22 is named Scheisskopf (his wife being the lovely Mrs Scheisskopf).
    • Not really a softening use, though — at several points later in the book, the name is translated directly back to "Shithead".
  • It used to be common for translators of bawdy works in Latin or other romance languages to leave seamier passages in the original language, so that they could only be read by "gentlemen".
    • Stephen Jay Gould reported that the only reason his father mentioned to study Latin was to translate the passages in Kraft-Ebbing's Psychopathia Sexualis. Since the book was published in 1886, this makes this trope Older Than Radio.
    • A bit later, the Loeb edition of Suetonius's Twelve Caesars had a page or two of his biography of Tiberius left untranslated. They were the pages about his rumoured debauchery on the island of Capri. Might have been corrected in later printings since newer translations generally include the passage.
    • Liddell and Scott's Greek-English Lexicon (first published 1819, still the standard dictionary for Classical Greek) frequently gives sexual meanings in Latin. One of the great joys of taking Latin is to read literary masters call their critics or rivals, "donkey brained shitheads".
  • There's a book about Japanese street slang, insults, etc. with the title "Zakennayo"--while you might hear it on TV sometimes, it's not something you'd display prominently in a bookstore. (Translations range from "Don't screw with me!" to "Fuck off!")
    • The literal translation is just "Don't joke with me", as it's simply a contraction of the phrase "Fuzakeruna yo!". While this grammar usage is indeed really rude ("-na" suffix' dictionary definition 'IS "suffix for rude verb negation"), it's not strictly swearing. But in Japanese the more you maim the word in pronunciation, the ruder it gets, so the correct translation of the title would be indeed "Don't fuck with me". Yes, it's that kind of language.
  • Dave Barry's column "Europe on Five Vowels a Day" gives three "idiomatic expressions" commonly used by foreigners, with translations. "Ach du lieber!" and "Caramba!" are both translated as "Darn it!" The French phrase "Zut alors!", however, is translated as, "Look! A lors!"
  • Vivian Vande Velde's Companions of the Night has its leading man muttering "merde" several times under his breath. Several times all in a row.
  • Dale Brown is fond of making characters drop into untranslated, say, Gratuitous Russian oaths.
  • Ernest Hemingway made extensive use of this in For Whom The Bell Tolls. The Spanish-speaking characters have their dialogue written in awkwardly literal English, but expletives appear as "muck" and "befoul" and even "obscenity" ("Go and obscenity thyself"). However, when the Spanish is left untranslated, it's "mierda" (shit - noun), "cagar" (shit - verb, as in "take a shit") and "joder" (fuck - both the verb and the interjection) all the way.
    • A particular favorite is along the lines of "Me cago en la leche de tu puta madre": "I shit in the milk of your whore of a mother". Pretty forceful — although the Snowclones leave something to be desired. ("I shit in the milk of their airplanes!")
  • "Sacrebleu" is a double subversion; literally it translates to "sacred blue" (which sounds harmless), but it referred to the Virgin Mary and there's a whole lot of stiff-upper-lip context associated with it, making it a serious curse in France (until about the end of the 18th century, anyway), but everywhere else just sort of a joke--like hearing "puta" or "culo" or, even worse, "maricón."
  • In the last Animorphs book, Jake uses the Chee's non-violence programming to force them to help him end the war, and Erek drops into a language he doesn't understand for about thirty seconds.

 Jake: ...what was that?

Erek: An ancient dialect of the Byzantine empire, known for its wide variety of cursewords.

Jake: No offense, but that's the least of my problems right now.

    • Also "The Secret", where Ax says that the lumber company's name, Dapsen, has an impolite meaning in Yeerk that he won't say.
    • The Hork-Bajir controllers often slip into cursing in their own language, leaving things a mix of English, the universal Gilard language and their own. There's a common phrasing of something like "ghilfrash Andalite!"
  • Done in-universe by Drizzt Do'Urden, when he taunts some stone giants by saying "Mangura bok woklok" which is "Stupid blockhead" in stone-giant language.
  • Played with in The Ship Who Sang - one character, angry with another, spends a straight ten minutes yelling angrily at him in Russian. After he's left the room, suitably cowed, she admits that what she's really been doing was just reciting one of her grandmother's recipes... in Russian.
  • In Terry Pratchett's Discworld, a character from Far Überwald (Discworld's "Slavonic" countries) shrieks Bodrozvachski zhaltziet! at a time of great stress. Terry invented this as a piece of pseudo-Slokian whch means nothing in any known Slavonic language, but which conveys all the sulphurous intensity of real Polish or Russian swearing. In fact, the Czech translator of his books left the cod-Slavonic in place, but went so far as to make the character voicing this oath into an explicit Russian, adding the explanatory footnote that cultured Czech readers would instantly know that only one race on this planet swears like that.

Live-Action TV

  • Firefly has extensive (and generally mispronounced) swearing in Mandarin. One wonders if the surreal effect this must have on native speakers of Mandarin is responsible for the show being completely unheard-of there
    • Whoever wrote the DVD subtitles didn't even recognize it as Mandarin - anything more than a few words is rendered as [SPEAKS GALACTIC LANGUAGE].
    • The novelization for the film actually translates the swears in footnotes.
  • British curses abound in Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Giles often uses obscure British slang terms, whose true meanings few Americans would know, but which generally sound like insults in context. Some of these have highly vulgar origins; for instance, Giles uses "berk" as an insult, which comes from the Cockney rhyming slang "Berkeley Berkshire Hunt". (What rhymes with Hunt?) One episode lampshades this through misinterpretation:

 Buffy: "He called you a toth. It's a British expression, it means, like, moron."

Giles: "No. Toth is the name of the demon."

    • In standard British English, "berk" isn't really very rude. It's also pronounced as it's written, as opposed to the "berk" in "Berkeley", which would be pronounced "bark". So very few people know the origins, and it's used to mean a mild form of "idiot", rather than the obscene word it originally comes from. If someone knocked over a glass, you might call them a berk, but you certainly wouldn't call them a **** - although it depends on what was in the glass.
    • Spike often used less-than-polite British slang, including the memorable "We band of buggered" (parodying the St. Crispin's Day speech "we band of brothers") as well as frequent "bloody"s and "sod off"s. A shot of him giving the two-fingered British "up yours" gesture in one episode actually ended up as part of the Title Montage in later seasons.
      • Bloody and "sod off" are pretty mild in British English. You wouldn't say it to your grandma, but you could say it in public to your mates without offending most people. And your granddad probably says "bloody". However a two fingered (it looks like a backhand peace sign) "up yours" sign is like "flipping the bird" but not used as much.
  • Desi Arnaz, on I Love Lucy, using the Spanish equivalent of "pregnant" when the English word was unacceptable for broadcast.
  • Captain Picard of Star Trek: The Next Generation has let slip a "merde" at least twice, in "The Last Outpost" and "Elementary, Dear Data". He also swore up a storm in Klingon in one episode. Even the visiting Klingon passenger was impressed.
    • Riker once swore in Romulan in response to a Romulan defector trying to get a rise out of Worf with Klingon insults.
  • In the Leverage episode "The Two Live Crew Job" the Israeli muscle for the opposing team throws out a quick "Kus shel ha ima shelha" at the team leader. Generally used as a "Fuck you" equivalent in Israel, the literal translation is "Your mothers cunt".
    • Also in the pilot where Sophie calls Nate a "wanker" when he's arrested her.
  • In the pilot episode of Lost, Sawyer (a Southern redneck) accuses Sayid (an Iraqi) of having caused the plane to crash. During the ensuing fight and argument, Sayid calls Sawyer "Ibn al-Kalb", which is Arabic for son of a bitch.
  • One episode of Stargate SG-1 features a very surprised Russian soldier saying "Bozhe moi," which is (inaccurately) translated by the DVD closed captioning-- not the subtitles-- as "Holy shit." SG-1 is notable for being a show that wasn't afraid to take advantage of its cable heritage and let a "shit" hit the fans now and again.
    • For reference, the actual translation is "My God." Same basic exclamation as in English.
    • In Stargate Atlantis, Dr. Radek Zelenka is played by David Nykl, who speaks fluent Czech. Word of God says only about half of Zelenka's Czech lines are scripted, and Czech fans have confirmed that not only is there a lot of uncensored swearing, he sometimes breaks the fourth wall.

  Zelenka: I'm trying, do prdele! (The last two words are Czech and aren't very polite.)]]

  • LeBeau of Hogan's Heroes swears in French, or at least seems to.
  • Late Show With David Letterman did a bit where a woman shouted out obscenities in Finnish. On stage. Uncensored. In reality, however, none of what she said was actually obscene, but relatively mild insults delivered in a tone that suggested very offensive content. Apparently they would have still had to bleep the bad words out had there been any, so they settled for what they could get away with.
  • In the Japanese series Cutie Honey The Live, the character Duke Watari is noticeably fond of screaming out "SHIT!" whenever he gets upset about something.
    • Similarly in Soul Eater Free sometimes yells "GODDAMN SHIT" after messing up.
    • Swing Girls has a cute high school girl shouting "Shit!" as she misses her stop on the subway. In subtitled anime, the Japanese word for 'shit' (kuso) is often translated as 'damn' for American audiences because of the similar usage.
  • Married... with Children's Peggy comes from Wanker County, Wisconsin (IIRC).
    • It's also her maiden name. In one episode she meets an old classmate or similar, who even goes so far as to greet her as "Peggy Wanker, no need to thank her".
  • In the last episode of the first season of Heroes (and then again in the first episode of the second season), Hiro says something in Japanese that is subtitled only as "&%#* " and that I've certainly never heard in any anime.
  • Subverted in Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide - in "Guide to-Bad Habits", Moze tries trash-talking he volleyball opponents in Dutch (but not really) to avoid getting penalized for foul language. The referee turns out to be Dutch (wearing wooden shoes in a school gym!) and penalizes her anyway.
  • Botched regularly in Friends, by Joey. He says "Va fa Napoli!" (which roughly means "Go to Naples!", in Italian), when he actually he meant to say "Vai a fare in culo" ("Go do it in the ass", or, less literally "Go get fucked in the ass").
  • Malcolm in the Middle has Lois' ambiguously foreign co-worker shouting "chaluzmerack!" when the store is held up.
  • In the Russian medical show Interny ("Interns"), the American intern Phil Richards speaks Russian very well but will occasionally swear in English. Of course, most Russian know what "shit" means but don't consider it to be as offensive as equivalent Russian swears.
  • Top Gear is fond of letting non-English speakers express themselves. The best example was probably the Top Gear vs. D-Motor challenge, where the Germans were cursing with great passion. English subtitles were provided that made them sound like an English granny in a very mild snit.
  • In the Covert Affairs episode "Begin the Begin", Annie has to protect an Estonian asset, who, upon getting shot at during a car chase, launches into a string of what are presumably profanities in Estonian, given that Annie responds, "You have some mouth on you."
  • In the fifth season premiere of Mad Men, Don's new French Canadian wife drops a rather brilliant "... calisse." Any French Canadian will immediately recognise this as an absolutely perfect Precision F-Strike as well.

Multiple Media

  • Bionicle: "Go to Karzahni" is commonly heard.


  • Richie Kavanagh's song "Aon Focal Eile" - a hybrid English-Irish song about a teacher teaching Irish. She said 'Aon focal, dá focal, trúir focal, eile' - and I not knowin' no focal at all. Translated to English means, She said 'One word, two words, three words, another' - and I not knowin no word at all. The humour is from the fact that "Focal" (an Irish word meaning "word") is pronounced "Fuckal".


  • One memorable example comes from the musical version of The Producers, in the number "You Never Say Good Luck in Opening Night," which features the phrases "Merde" and "Bah Fahngool," which are swear words in French and Italian, respectively.
    • Merde, in French, can actually be used to say "good luck". It's a shortening of the phrase "merde a la puissance treize" which translates literally as "shit to the thirteenth power". Loosely it can translate to "go get them", "give them hell" or "break a leg".
    • The second one is better rendered as "va fan culo", and means roughly "get bent", only more offensive.
    • It's a popular chant at football matches.
      • According to Sterling Johnson's book "Watch Your F* cking Language," the full phrase is "Vai a fare in culo" which translates to "go do it in your ass."
    • The aforementioned Italian phrase is also used by Rizzo in Grease in the song "Look At Me, I'm Sandra Dee".


  • In God Hand, Elvis is inherently fond of swearing in Spanish in a regular basis. Most notable in the battle quotes ("Time to play, pendejo!" "¡No hablo inglés, cabrón!").
  • The Spanish-speaking Ganados of Resident Evil 4 use some words that, if translated, would probably crank the game's rating up. And it's already Rated "M" for Money.
    • Hell, the first words said by the first Ganado Leon meets roughly translate to "What the fuck are you doing here? Get out of here, asshole!"
  • Funny variation in the first Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Parts of Manella's dialogue is internet slang and leetspeak, and he therefore gets away with exclaiming "WTF!".
  • Scarface the World Is Yours has Tony and some of his enemies liberally dish out the Spanish. They have no problems with using English as well, though.
  • In the Wii Punch Out, various boxers who are walking national stereotypes speak foreign languages. Great Tiger tells Little Mac (in Hindi) to do what translates to suggesting he go back to his mommy's milk, while Bald Bull asks (in Turkish) if Louis (Mac's Trainer) is teaching Mac how to get spanked.
  • Gratuitous English-loving Date Masamune of Sengoku Basara shouts words like "shit" and "goddamn" quite often in-game.
  • In Team Fortress 2, the Spy has "Oh, merde!" (shit) as one of his angry one-liners. The Medic will also call his teammates "dummkopfs" (which is wrong in German - it should be "Dummköpfe", and is laughably mild).
  • Grunty, the german mercenary from Jagged Alliance, often exclaims "Scheisse" (Shit) when he spots an enemy. Another mercenary, Ivan, also swears in Russian. (Then again, in the first two games, he only speaks Russian.)
  • Final Fantasy XIV of all things seems to love doing this; the Gridanians have been effing and blinding at me with British expletives since I arrived. Bollocks, arse, shite.. wow.
  • Tear, the fairy half of Recettear's main Odd Couple, mumbles "merde" whenever she gets exasperated.
  • In the game Soul Calibur II, Yoshimitsu says a few Japanese curse words... What's so odd is that these words are ALSO IN THE JAPANESE VERSION!
    • Well, there are actually no official cuss words in Japanese. The well-known "chiku shou," which is commonly translated as "Shit" or "Damn it" is actually not a cuss word and is often used anime where children are part of the targeted audience, like in Naruto where the titular protagonist uses it all the time.
  • In the 2005 game The Warriors (based, of course, on the 1970s cult classic film), while the New York "tough-guy" characters cuss a blue streak anyway (just as in the movie), there is also some untranslated Spanish when the characters take a side trip to Spanish Harlem, and some of the Puerto Rican expressions would be even more offensive than what is normally heard in the game were they to be rendered in English. Two examples are "Me cago in tus madres" ("I shit on your mothers") and "puto" (used repeatedly, and a very offensive name to call any male, since its connotation is somewhere between "bitch" and "faggot.").
    • It literally means male prostitute. That being said, the word's so offensive you'll probably prefer to use synonyms when discussing male prostitution in Spanish (such as 'prostituto' or 'chapero').
  • Used frequently in the Grand Theft Auto games which feature communities foreign to America: they (mostly Hispanic) swear in their home language (it's easier to hear whenever you cause a traffic accident), but other languages are not exempt (Portuguese-speaking players are guaranteed to get a laugh in IV when they hear a driver - very rare though[2] - yelling "vai tomar no cu, filho da puta!", which means "kiss my ass, son of a bitch!").
  • Interesting case in Tales of the Abyss: Asch often calls Luke "drek" as a placeholder title and insult. The word is indeed uncommon, but not completely unheard of in North American English and it was likely brought over from the German language where it carries the meaning of "trash" or "inferior goods", hence Asch's usage of the phrase. However, the original Yiddish version of the word, predating the German use, is much stronger and harsher.
  • In Assassin's Creed II, Ezio curses off the final boss, Pope Rodrigo Borgia, using an Italian phrase translating to "Go fuck yourself."


Western Animation

Real Life

  • In an international-level fencing championship, one fencer made a mistake and swore in Swahili. An elderly member of the audience stood up and informed the referee that he'd done so, and the offender was penalized.
  • Some anatomical references sound not only more polite but sexier when spoken in French. Take, for instance, "derrière" or (to quote Christopher Buckley):

 There was another phrase much in Suzy's repertoire then: "belle poitrine." As in, "Mrs. Buckley, of the belle poitrine." For years, I laughed along with it; then, one day in French class, we got to body parts, and I discovered it meant "great tits."

  • A football game for Euro 1996 or 2000 where a young David Beckham tripped a striker from the opposing side (Greece). The striker's response as he was sitting on the grass? "Ante gamisou, re malaka" (ie. Fuck you, you wanker.) The referee did not catch it, but Greek viewers laughed their asses off. (Eventually, we lost, however)
  • This actually happens a lot in the Netherlands, where people love to over-use English swear words. They aren't considered as bad as they would be in English, to the point where you can (usually) say "fuck you" to someone without it being considered offensive.
    • Of course, it helps that we pronounce it 'fak' and that we usually laugh while doing it (showing that the insult or quip thrown at you didn't really jam you that much). If you're a Moroccan immigrant, it'll be "fok", and there'll be nothing joking about it.
      • Foreign exchange students in South Africa can't believe Afrikaans uses words like 'vak' (subject) and 'kant' (side). 'Kies' means 'choose', so the joke goes, Choose your side and subject...
    • Fairly frequent in Quebec, too, with fuck and shit being seen as overall quite mild (and perfectly acceptable on prime-time television), compared to Quebec's vast array of liturgy-based swearwords.
      • In Canada in general - or at least on the CBC - swearing isn't as heavily censored as in certain other places one might name. The 6 o'clock news, for example, won't bleep anything but an F-bomb. Individual networks vary on other matters.
      • In the 1970s, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau (a native French speaker) told a group of striking truck drivers to "mangez de la merde".[5]
    • A reference in this Dutch ad (NSFW language).
  • A coffee shop chain in southeastern Massachusetts named Marylou's (known to some as "Hooters of the morning") has a featured drink called the "Funky Fanabla". Demangled into standard Italian, it comes out to "va fa Napoli", which means, more or less, "go to hell", and literally something along the lines of "go do it like they do in Naples". The drink itself is some kind of iced coffee something or other.
  • Grand Duchess Anastasia Romanov took French lessons, and her instructor told once told her to underline any words she didn't know and ask him. Reading Les Misérables, at one point, she saw the word "merde (shit)", and since the tutor wasn't around she went to find her father and ask him. Cue awkwardness when the Tsar asked the tutor why she was learning that word.
  • Might be a very group-specific thing, but on some chats and forums that blot out all the common English swear words, people will use the most horrific profanities from their native language. For example, using the Finnish profanity "perkele" (basically a harsher version of "fuck") in a sentence "pretty perkeleen big" ("pretty fucking big"). This can lead to some comedy when people who don't speak the language try to use the same words, especially if the language requires inflection (because most people will use the words in the context-sensitive right form anyway.)
  • On CNN, when discussing President Obama's "looking for 'whose ass to kick'" statement in regards to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, Ed Henry, not wishing to say the actual word himself, substituted it with 'arse'. (This was after he'd been teased for earlier replacing it with 'butt'.)
  • Most swear words in modern Hebrew are actually loanwords from Arabic or Russian that were a lot stronger in the original. Hence, you'll have people throwing around things like kibinimat (Russian, if anyone knows what it actually means feel free to write it in) and kus ummak (Arabic, your mother's cunt) a bit more freely than in the source languages.
    • I'm pretty sure it means something like 'go back to your mother's cunt', but I'm not sure. "yob tvoyu mat'" gets thrown around a lot too.
      • This kibinimat sounds more like k yebeni materi, which means "[go] to [your] fucked mother". Yob tvoyu mat' means "fuck your mother", by the way.
  • In Ethiopia most people learn about American culture through movies and music videos. This results in small kids trying to impress foreigners by shouting out "fuck you". The "Fuck You" capital lies around Shashamane and Awassa where kids say it the most, and is incredibly funny when they instead shout out "fuck me", and then wonder why the Americans are laughing at them.
  • In Germany most people don't consider the English curse words to be big deal. Especially "shit" has about the same level as "Mist", which translates as crap. But Germans are generally lax about the use of swear words.
  • In Norway, some people love to use the word shit liberally, although as it is completely homophonous with the harmless N. word "skitt" (dirt), it's hard to tell which they are using. Dirt, meanwhile, derives from the Norwegian word "drit", which today is considered vulgar. They've also got the dialectal "skit", which does mean "shit" but still isn't too vulgar for normal informal conversation.
    • Norwegian swear words are very context sensitive. Politicians and celebrities can sit on talk shows all day talking about how fucking well they got their shit together without anyone batting an eyelid, but the moment they call someone a fucking idiot, they can expect bunch of nasty headlines in tomorrow's papers. The issue isn't with the words themselves, but their potential as insults.
  • Anglophone ex-pats in Korea sometimes say "Eighteen" to express mild irritation (or to warn mildly-irritating friends that they're on the verge of becoming more-than-mildly irritating). The Korean word for 18 (십팔 sip-pal) is nearly homophonous with the language's preferred obscenity (시발 sibal).
    • Children are often endlessly amused when their foreign teachers mispronounce the former as the latter.
  • European French-speaking people have a very nasty habit of using Québécois curses. Actually, every single Quebec French word suddenly becomes exotic, but "tabarnak" is especially popular. Can lead to hilarious situations.
  • The Washington, DC DMV issued a Vanity License Plate reading "MERDE" without realizing what it meant.
  • 419 Scam baiters use these a lot. One scammer was left standing at Amsterdam airport holding a sign reading "Kontneuker" (Dutch for "ass-fucker"), under the mistaken assumption that it was the surname of his contact.
  • Amusingly, the quote for this page, when exposed to an internet translator actually came up with "Damn fucking fucking fucking shit asshole motherfucker of." Brilliant.
  • Swedish people typically know a few Finnish curse words and sometimes use them when their own ones aren't enough - and vice versa.
  1. Translation: God's name of a whore in a brothel of shit from the filth of idiots from your sodomized mother.
  2. The Portuguese community in Liberty City is located in Alderney, which is not unlocked until halfway into the game
  3. Short for "Leck mich am Arsch.", literally "Lick me on the ass.", German version of "Kiss my ass."
  4. A personification of Guy Fawkes Day; it's complicated.
  5. Translation: Eat shit.