MEXICAN SWEARING.

A NY Times story by Marc Lacey looks into the prevalence of cursing south of the Rio Grande/Río Bravo:

Mexicans, despite their reputation in Latin America for ultrapoliteness and formality, curse like sailors, a recent survey found. They use profanity when speaking with their friends, with their co-workers, with their spouses and even with their bosses and parents. On Independence Day, the thing to shout above all else is “Viva Mexico, Cabrones!” a patriotic exhortation directed at either bastards or buddies, depending on the tone employed.
Consulta Mitofsky, a Mexican polling firm, asked 1,000 Mexicans 18 and older about their use of “groserías,” as curse words are known in Spanish, and found that respondents estimated they used an average of 20 bad words a day. Those swearing the most, not surprisingly, were young people. “The generation younger than 30 sees the use of bad words as more natural and they use them not only in front of friends but, many of them say, in front of their parents or bosses,” the survey found.
Geographically, the worst offenders were in the north, near the border with the United States, and in the center of the country. Men were generally more foulmouthed than women, though not by much…

There’s an over-the-top quote from Octavio Paz (“The forbidden words boil up in us, just as our emotions boil up… When they finally burst out, they do so harshly, brutally, in the form of a shout, a challenge, an offense. They are projectiles or knives. They cause wounds”) and some boilerplate on the condition the country’s condition is in (“there is plenty to curse about in Mexico these days”); what particularly caught my attention, though, was the fact that the Times, so prudish in English, has no problem printing bad words in Spanish. (Thanks for the link, Eric!)

Comments

  1. Strange, had just this conversation, half in Spanish, around me at work. How Mexicans swear a lot, but it’s the Venezuelans who are REALLY crude…
    Everyone knows swearing in other languages doesn’t count. Right?

  2. I curse like a sailor as well, but I excuse it as a result of living in a non-English speaking country and assume I can get away with it more, though of course if they know any words in English they’ll know the bad ones. So really I’m just a foul-mouthed f***.
    And to what zhoen says about it not counting, I completely agree, in that the readers aren’t likely to be offended when the word doesn’t get an emotional response from them.

  3. rootlesscosmo says:
  4. My Hispanic students tell me “cabron” isn’t a bad word, but they laugh and look really uncomfortable when they say it.

  5. The Times might not be prudish with the Spanish curse words, but the poll that they cite doesn’t mention a single one. (Summary here, PDF here.) In this regard it’s much like the AP/Ipsos poll from a few years back, which similarly tried to survey obscenity usage without giving respondents any clue as to what constitutes obscenity.

  6. Shit, swearing in non-other languages hardly counts anymore.
    That raises an interesting question: what are the most offensive words nowadays? In the US and Australia, they’re racist words. (See I won’t even type them for fear of offending someone.) I wonder about other countries.

  7. Niger is used to refer to a person of colour in both German & Norwegian without having any racist overtones.

  8. I think in general, curse-words in other languages are seen as somewhat less offensive than those in one’s native language, even though these other languages are widely understood. In Sweden, for instance, explicit lyrics in US hiphop songs are often not censored on the radio, whereas the same thing would happen with Swedish songs. (It hardly needs adding that these US lyrics are fully understood by Swedish listeners.) Similarly, about ten years ago, there was a well-known Swedish film called “Fucking Åmål” (Åmål is a city and “fucking” is an attribute). Many considered it prudish when it was renamed “Show Me Love” upon its international release, but I think part of that reaction was due to the fact that not all understood how hard it would be to get a film to contain the F-word in the title in the US. So this might be a wider phenomenon.

  9. Well, my Spanish is worse than it should be, but IMHO profanity is an inalienable part of any colloquial discourse in Spanish. Sounding colloquial in Spanish is basically about filling your pauses automatically and fluently with profanities.

  10. Swear words just don’t have the same impact to non-native speakers, it seems to me. I worked for a Jpanese-language magazine which used odd english words in headlines for emphasis. Once they splashed “Fucking hell !!” across two pages, and I had to point out to the editor, who was fluent in English, that just because he heard it often in the milieu we were in, it wasn’t a good idea in print.
    Particularly as the magazine had a youth-early adult readership who might be encouraged to use the term in inappropriate circumstances, thinking it was alright because they had seen it in print. The editor, a nice man, got the point immediately.

  11. not all understood how hard it would be to get a film containing the F-word in the title in the US
    Fucking Åmål was made by Colin Nutley, who’s British but makes his films (and life) in Sweden, so he knew what he was doing with the title. It’s more likely that he didn’t give a fuck about US sales, but the distributers did. It was called Fucking Åmål in Norway, but then Norwegians have the same attitude to foreign swearwords as Swedes.

  12. Fucking Åmål was made by Colin Nutley
    No it wasn’t. Never mind; I made that up, it seems.

  13. Our Dutch crown prince made a faux pas in his Mexican Spanish last week:
    http://www.rnw.nl/english/article/crown-prince-screws-his-spanish

  14. Niger is used to refer to a person of colour in both German & Norwegian without having any racist overtones.
    Where did you get that idea, Mr. Doppeltgemoppelt?! The German Niger is a river or a country. The German Nigger is quite offensive, and is used intentionally to cause offense (in contrast to “nigger” in parts of the old South in the US, as can be found in Welty’s short stories).
    Nigger has had a mixed history here. When the Americans came in after the WW II, many Germans picked it up as a term of abuse. By chance I have just read Koeppen’s excellent novel Tauben im Gras (Pigeons on the grass, he took the title from Stein), which was published in 1951 and takes place in the post-war years. Nigger is used not infrequently by some of the characters. One of the main themes of the book is a black/white relationship, with baby on the way that the German woman wants to abort because everyone, particularly her mother, is so hateful about the black American soldier who has put the breadroll in the oven.
    Sometimes you hear old people from the German sticks use Nigger in the offensive way. Otherwise, primarily due to gangsta (c)rap, some young people think Nigger is cool, but everybody is confused.

  15. Our Dutch crown prince made a faux pas in his Mexican Spanish last week
    Somebody in the production line introduced it into the speech text:

    The speech had been prepared by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, which has since apologised to the prince for putting the wrong words into his mouth.

    I heard Stephen Daldry on Radio 4 last night talking about his time as a politician (he has also been a journalist, a part-time comic with Alan Bennett, and directed and produced plays and films). He and other people had to stay on the alert with the speech texts for politicians, since rude expressions and puns kept cropping up in them, accidentally on purpose. In his TV pieces, he always keep watch for overzealous cutters who cut little jokey passages that were intended to be there and have a cumulative effect, but that the cutters thought were superfluous.

  16. Tauben im Gras (Pigeons on the grass, he took the title from Stein)
    Good heavens, is “Pigeons on the grass, alas” familiar enough to Germans an allusion can be used as a title? I would have thought Stein was one of those writers who wouldn’t travel well.

  17. above: “always had to keep watch” instead of “always keep watch”

  18. From this link, it seems that either the Dutch Prince was deliberately being colloquial / profane, or else he or his ghostwriter picked up the phrase without knowing exactly it meant.
    Urban Dictionary
    Apparently “chingada” meaning “fucked” is specifically Mexican and has a lot of historical depth…. according to Paz anyway:
    La Malinche…. is a complicated figure, traitor and protector, both mother and whore, the last things earned her the nickname La Chingada (the screwed one). It is Octavio Paz who summarizes after centuries the symbolic meaning of ’La Chingada’: “The idea of La Chingada functions not only as a curse, but as a reminder of the power of the interpreter, even five hundred years after the conquest.” (**) Paz explains the indentity crisis of the modern Mexican: colonial Spain vanished, collapsed indian empires, mixed desendence, mulatto, criollo, mestizo, zambo, a past out of reach, a modern western state form that does not fit, in short “a fucked up nation”: Chingaderas!

  19. familiar enough to Germans
    Most Germans wouldn’t get it, but there is a motif in the book comparing pigeons on the grass with people on the street, that is understandable with knowing about Stein. The quote from her appears only as a lead-quote-at-the-beginning-of-the-book (what d’ye call it, epi-something). That’s just for well-read cosmopolitan folks like you and me, Hat.

  20. Even as a three-cheesewheels-high kid (Ger. loc.), one knew chinga tu madre from the Mexican kids at school in El Paso, and chingada from the Mexican maids.

  21. Supposedly “chinga tu madre” is so pervasive that the word “madre” is avoided in casual, polite speech.

  22. the Dutch Prince was deliberately being colloquial / profane, or else he or his ghostwriter picked up the phrase without knowing exactly it meant.
    “Deliberate” is unlikely in an official speech. “Without knowing exactly what it meant” is a disingenuous excuse. Of course it was put there with malice aforethought. See my remarks above about Daldry.
    JE, what is this campaign to exculpate everybody? I thought you believed in Evil?

  23. lead-quote-at-the-beginning-of-the-book (what d’ye call it, epi-something)
    Epigraph

  24. @AJPATHinkingMachine: Indeed, Colin Nutley has made many films, but “Fucking Åmål” wasn’t one of them. The director of “Fucking Åmål” was Lukas Moodysson. (He is Swedish but it’s a strange name. I don’t know where he got it from: if he changed his name or if he inherited it, and in that case who was the first one in his family to take that name and why. But that’s off topic.)

  25. I heartily approve the quotation, of course, regardless of who is responsible.

  26. the indentity crisis …: colonial Spain vanished, collapsed Indian empires, mixed descendence, mulatto, criollo, mestizo, zambo, a past out of reach, a modern western state form that does not fit, in short “a fucked up nation”: Chingaderas
    You’re sure he’s not talking about the US of A?

  27. For some macaronic foul-mouthery, check out Gustavo Arellano’s “Ask A Mexican” column, archived at:
    http://www.ocweekly.com/columns/view/32466

  28. I see that the Royal Spanish Academy tells us that ‘chingar’ came from Calo (accent final syllable). This is the language of the Spanish Rom, which I learned about from whatsisname’s The Bible in Spain. I have wondered about the origin of ‘chingar’ for some time because forty years ago, when I was engolfeandome in the narrow carrers of old Barcelona, the word I learned for ‘fuck’ was joder. The odd thing about that word was that, although an infinitive in form, it was used as a noun, a term of address, a tag at the end of an utterance, no offence given or taken. It was as if everyone was called ‘fucker’, which seemed strangely democratic in Franco’s Spain.

  29. I’m having a bad day. Maybe it’s some other German word, not nigger. I actually just felt an urge to write nigger, I don’t like taboos.

  30. lakon:
    Joder is still standard in Spain; I learned it while living in the Canary Islands a few years ago.
    Chingar is stereotypically Mexican. There’s an amusing scene in the movie El Norte (1983) in which a pair of Guatemalan siblings are trying to sneak (back) into the US from Mexico. Because they’re terrified of being deported back to Guatemala, they ask a friend how they can convince the US Border Patrol that they’re really just Mexicans, if they should get caught; he tells them to just say “chinga” all the time…

  31. I add my enthusiastic recommendation to look at the snarky Ask a Mexican column by Gustavo Arellano in the Orange County Weekly, linked above by Michael. It even offers fresh pasture for phonémomanes (in the contribution following the one quoted below).
    Here’s a sample (gabacho was new to me, I’m still with gringo):

    Dear Mexican: An uninsured wetback just hit my car and totaled his. He had no insur*nce and no license, but did have a nice cell phone. In my limited Spanish, I asked him if he was okay, but he did not ask about me or my children. He was handcuffed and taken away to be booked for one hour to get his real ID. This incident will cost me hundreds of dollars, even with my insur*nce. My insur*nce company tells me 60 percent of accidents in California are with uninsured Mexican drivers. Why don’t they just take buses like I did when I couldn’t afford a car?
          Stranded With No Rental Insur*nce

    Dear Gabacho: Yeah, you really care if the man who rammed into you was okay when you smirk at his cell phone and call him a wetback (and real pronto, readers: Please eliminate that word from your Rolodex of Racism. Like “beaner,” it’s so 1950s. Use “wab” or the cooler-sounding Spanish translation, mojado). Cry me a pinche río. Also, your insur*nce company no sabe what they’re talking about sobre the figures you provided. The Insur*nce Research Council’s Uninsured Motorists, 2008 Edition estimated only 18 percent of Californians drive uninsured; the 1998 study, California’s Uninsured, by the Policy Research Bureau of the California Department of Insur*nce did determine 35 percent of Latinos had no insur*nce but didn’t bother to figure out whether they caused the majority of accidents. Both studies showed that the rate of insured drivers in California and the United States had actually increased over the years, so that figure your agent gave you was just to soothe your frayed gabacho ego—it simply has no basis in fact or statistical projections. Finally, with regards to your actual question: Uninsured Mexicans drive cars for the same reason uninsured non-Mexicans do—the buses are overcrowded with Mexicans.

  32. You probably meant Neger, the German equivalent of negro. It used to be the common term for black people (following pre-18c Mohr, “moor”), but it became increasingly derogative, especially with the Nazis who called all Western or US culture “vernegert und verjudet”.
    It hasn’t been acceptable for decades. An ultrasweet treat named Mohrenkopf or Negerkuss in my childhood has since been renamed to Schokokuss.

  33. <* strikes forehead *> Of course that’s what Crown meant. How stupid of me not to think of that!
    The current term is simply Schwarzer, to match Weißer (much less frequent, although there are more of them!?), similar to “black” and “white” in the States. In Germany Farbiger (colored) is only applied to blacks, for some reason, unlike the British “coloured” in Britain. It’s not applied to people from India, for instance (I am right about “coloured” for Indians in Britain, innit? Crown?).

  34. It could be, ~ . I was told that whatever it was wasn’t a bad word. This was from youngish white German people who had also lived in New York. I’m sure they weren’t racist.

  35. Schwarzer is also Yiddish, where it’s derogatory. Now someone tell me I’m wrong.

  36. And my question about “coloured” and Indians, Mr. Krankenschwester? Are you nursing a grudge?

  37. I’m not sure if coloured is still in use in Britain, In the sixties- seventies it meant anyone dark-skinned (i.e. darker than a Celt), but didn’t include Chinese, Jews, Arabs or Italians. In pre-1990s South Africa, coloured or ‘Cape Coloured’ meant South Africans with Indian ancestors, not African.

  38. ‘Cape Coloured’
    My understanding of “coloured” may be strongly influenced by all those Doris Lessing novels I read in the 80s. And I mean pretty much all of them that were around. When the science-fiction stuff started taking over, I opted out.

  39. No, I don’t begrudge anyone a nurse. I just like the word Krankenschwester, it sounds like a very cross nurse.

  40. Nörgeltüte (gripe bag) might serve, and it’s not even restricted to nurses or those of the feminine persuasion. A traditional, equally unisex word is Jammersuse (whining Sue).

  41. I think most Americans from the Northeast understand “Shvartser” to be derogatory in Yiddish, which is why “Schwarzer” bothers me in German, I’d prefer “Neger” if I had a vote.
    I once had an American friend in Russia who referred to a mutual acquaintance of ours as an “Afro-Amerikanka”, I guess out of American PC habit. Our Russian friends thought was an odd term for a woman of mixed Angolan-Russian parentage.

  42. Also “colored” used to be a common term in the American South, but is now derogatory. As far as I know in the US it only applied to people of African descent, but we didn’t have many South Indians in the US back then.

  43. A.J.P.
    I hear “coloured” used in Britain. It’s not politically correct and you probably wouldn’t hear a middle class person say it, but it’s certainly fairly common amongst more working class Northerners (I can’t speak for Southerners), and I’ve only really heard it used descriptively without any racist intent.

  44. There’s a big difference between offensive = crude and offensive = insulting. You might feel too uncomfortable to say ‘shit/fuck/piss’ around or to an elderly lady or a religious official, or in a professional environment, while, however politically correct your anti-PC credentials are, you might never be comfortable with nigger/kike/spic, if you’re bothered by the miserable histories of these words.
    Of course, a lot of the anger or spite of ‘hate speech’ is in the tone that one uses to say the word(s)- which, notoriously, no ‘hate speech’ code can account for. I’ll bet there’s plenty of leeway in more or less jovial circumstances in most demotic languages to call your homie a ‘dumb-ass fucker’- which phrase could easily provoke a fight at, say, a minor traffic accident.
    In Greece, malaka is practically ‘man’ or ‘dude’ between friends- but rarely useful in an official or respectworthy situation, and at a fender-bender or over a woman in a bar: fighting word. (It comes from the modern word for ‘to masturbate’ and sounds like it comes from the ancient word for, simply, ‘soft’.) Maybe Mexicans are more friendly and more hostile than people in other cultures, though ‘hot-blooded Latin’ sounds like a stereotype of limited utility.
    I think most people trust their ability to gauge each other’s intentions, and that- intent- is what cements an “oath”, a ‘promise to do or cause’. No doubt that this ‘trust’ is often enough misplaced . . .

  45. Try translating impolite speech literally. If your interlocutor knows the original language, at least to the extent of street-wise cursing, they might be amused by hearing the expression in their own language.
    For example, to a Mexican (or any Hispanophone) who’s seen, say, The Wire, try mierda del torro, or to a Greek, skata tou taurou. I bet they’ll understand that you mean ‘nonsense’, and not some zoological/coprological non sequitur.

  46. Bad ‘*****’ names are used to hurt, simply put, ’tis why most learn unacceptable words in a ‘ferign tunge’ first. But never ‘kurse’ and smile in ones own ‘tung’ a ‘ferign persun’ carrying a weapon of mass force, because if he knows the meaning ye be minced and diced.
    ‘Tis why I know many ferign curse words but not the rest of the lingo, because it helps me know who be friend or foe. Turkish, Dutch and Arabic have some doozzies, for insulting parentage and orientations.

  47. David Marjanović says:

    N[e]ger is used to refer to a person of colour in [...] German [...] without having any racist overtones.

    You can still find that, but it’s getting rare; not just because of the parallel history of negro in English, but also because it’s a noun – and thus makes it sound like you’re talking about a different species, especially when it comes to compounds like Negerkinder, which turn my stomach.
    On the other hand, you can find graffiti like NEGER RAUS or NEGER – DROGENDEALER
    Farbiger hasn’t been applied to Indians because… well, mostly because there hardly are any in German-speaking countries (Currywurst notwithstanding), but also because such people are traditionally counted as “Europid” in school atlases.
    The same person can be “black” in the USA, “coloured” in South Africa, and “white” in Brazil…

  48. David Marjanović says:

    “Europid”
    That would be “Caucasian” in English.

  49. mollymooly says:

    ‘Cape Coloured’ meant South Africans with Indian ancestors
    No it didn’t. Cape coloureds were/are mixed-race black+white. In the late-apartheid tricameral parliament, the colureds and the Indians had a chamber each. The whites had the main chamber, the blacks had nothing. The ANC has tried to get cape-coloureds to self-identify as black, with mixed results.
    That would be “Caucasian” in English.
    To me, Caucasian:white :: African American:black. A US PC circumlocution not applicable elsewhere.
    Everyone knows swearing in other languages doesn’t count. Right?
    When French people say “fuck” it can sound more like “feck”, which is funny if you’re Irish.

  50. rootlesscosmo says:

    the word I learned for ‘fuck’ was joder
    From a Spanish Anarchist song recorded by Quilapayùn:
    Los Americanos son dueños de todo
    Yo soy español pero en España me jodo”

  51. Caucasians include the South Caucasians (e.g. Georgians), Northwest Caucasians (e.g. Kabardians), and Northeast Caucasian, (e.g. Chechens. The majority of Caucasians are Georgians, Kabardians, or Chechens), but few Caucasians know that they belong to one of these groups. One notable exception is Jimmy Carter.

  52. I once had an American friend in Russia who referred to a mutual acquaintance of ours as an “Afro-Amerikanka”, I guess out of American PC habit. Our Russian friends thought was an odd term for a woman of mixed Angolan-Russian parentage.
    That’s hilarious. I never would have dreamed PC would go so far.

  53. Also “colored” used to be a common term in the American South, but is now derogatory.
    …but “of color” is perfectly all right.

  54. marie-lucie says:

    “(Person) of color” seems to be a direct translation from French, where you can use un homme/une femme de couleur for a person whose skin colour is somewhere between a European’s and a Sub-Saharan African’s. It sounds strange in English because English, like other Germanic languages, typically forms compounds with the main noun second (as in “bathrobe”, a robe for the bath), or adjective + noun phrases, while French, like other Romance languages, prefers to have the main noun followed by a preposition (as in “peignoir de bain” for the same meaning). This formation is not unknown in English, as in “a person of integrity”, but it is far less common than in French or Spanish.
    The “calque” (= word for word translation) “of color” is the latest in a historical series of euphemisms in American speech for the darker-skinned section of the population, terms which started as neutral but each came to be considered objectionable. At present it is new enough to be considered neutral.

  55. Marie-Lucie describes a familiar process that can lead to an endless demand for new euphemisms.
    For example, “toilet” was once a delicate way of alluding to excretory matters, but that word didn’t smell so nice after it had been in the bathroom for a while. Here the process was driven by a wish to not have to mention the matter at all.
    Another famliar case is “handicapped”. Once a euphemism itself, it became objectionable in its turn. In this case the process was driven, I think, by the fact that many people have an objectionable attitude toward those who are, for lack of a better word, handicapped. Changing the word does not change the attitudes, but I understand how a word like that becomes tainted for some people and thus gets discarded. The common wish not to have to mention the subject at all surely plays a role, too, but it’s not the whole story in this case.
    The matter of words for dark-skinned people is even more complicated. Here again a word can move from being as neutral as possible to being tainted, because of being, among other things, the everyday word of those who hate or look down on the group. And again, words may be tainted for some people by the sheer fact that the subject of race can makes them uncomfortable. But it can also happen that a new term displaces an old one when some leaders push an idea about how the group should think of itself. In such cases the new term starts out not just neutral but positive. (Come to think of it, this happens with handicapped, too, in a way that it’s easy to be amused by.) Later the new term may get tainted by being used by the wrong people, or may be superseded by a newer idea about how the group should think of itself, or both.
    A couple of special features of the phrase “people of color”: It was meant to embrace all darker-skinned groups in a way that “colored” never did in the US, and it is serves to replace “non-white” in a perspective-altering way.
    I wonder what the fate of this phrase will be.
    For me it is easy to be amused by, or impatient with, these processes, but it’s also easy to sympathize with those who fight these losing battles with words.

  56. “Afro-Amerikanka”
    This reminds me of the long-ago Doonesbury cartoon in which someone greets a newborn child with “It’s a baby woman!”

  57. “Fucking Åmål was made by Colin Nutley”
    No it wasn’t.
    “Niger is used in German without racist overtones”
    Where did you get that idea?
    “‘Cape Coloured’ meant South Africans with Indian ancestors”
    No it didn’t.
    This is a record number of mistakes in one thread…
    No it isn’t.

  58. N[e]ger is used without having any racist overtones
    You can still find that, but it’s getting rare;
    All my German info is at least 15 years old.

  59. German info at that age is notoriously rebellious and unreliable. Just let it grow on its own terms, and everything will work out all right.

  60. but it’s also easy to sympathize with those who fight these losing battles with words.
    I mean more than that: Even if these are always losing “battles” in the long run, they sometimes achieve something good for a while.

  61. Trond Engen says:

    That’s hilarious. I never would have dreamed PC would go so far.
    I don’t think it’s really PC, not directly anyway. It’s about originally PC terms being established as the unmarked words (which is both why they were coined in the first place and why they don’t work), about carrying one’s habits over to a new language, and about calquing on the fly when in need of a word. I believe that a politically aware speaker with an active, conscious control of her choice of terms would have been more likely to either stop in despair or rephrase it in an awkward but safe way.

  62. Spanish cursing has influenced other languages cursing too. For example, it has influenced cursing in Tagalog (Philippines language). “Putang ina mo” in Tagalog translates as your mother’s a whore or fuck you. Putang comes from Puta which in Spanish means whore.
    Filipinos curse a lot too I know I do!
    How to Set Up Your Rosemary Herb Garden

  63. Best spam ever. Seriously. Herb garden, on-topic comment, let them stay. One of them, anyway.

  64. John E., your pleas have warmed my cold, cold heart. I have deleted three of the four identical comments and replaced the URL of the spam link by example.com, but have left the comment otherwise intact. Spammers, mercy is available… but not for your spammy links.

  65. “Cape Coloured” was a historic population (i.e. not descendants of recent interracial unions, though a few likely got lumped there) with major contributions from Hottentots and Malays besides those already mentioned.

  66. marie-lucie says:

    Yes, LH, tempering justice with mercy.

  67. The quality of mercy straineth not spam.

  68. Hay Caramba! I must be a Mexican sailor!
    Ur Chingolicockarony Fiend,
    thegrowlingwolf

  69. One of my dictionaries is El Chingolés: primer Diccionario del lenguaje popular mexicano. It consists entirely of phrases based on the verb chingar. With 240 pages at roughly 20 entries per page comes out to about 4800 entries.

  70. “An ultrasweet treat named Mohrenkopf or Negerkuss in my childhood has since been renamed to Schokokuss.”
    Depending on the region in Germany, Mohrenkopf does not always designate the same thing as Negerkuss (a chocolate-covered marshmallow), but a kind of pastry made of sponge cake, filled with jam, whipped cream or custard and covered with chocolate. I don’t think this pastry has changed its name, possibly because Mohr is such an old-fashioned expression now. Then again, I haven’t really seen it recently, so the bakeries may have decided to just not produce it anymore.

  71. Per Jørgensen says:

    ¡Que chingasos! AJP Kronikør, niger exists not in Norwegian. It’s neger, as in German.
    Anecdote: When you cook hot dogs over a camp fire, they get this little black bumps of burnt skin. We used to call them — and yes, I’m ashamed to say this — negervorter, vorter meaning warts. A swollen lip was a negerleppe. I think most modern Norwegian parents would crack down on those, but since I haven’t actually lived in my home country for over fifteen years, I’m not exactly an authority on current usage.
    Meanwhile, back on maldita topic: Spanish curses ring better to my ears than English ones, which after all my time speaking primarily English still fail to feel all that cathartic to me. For what it’s worth, the swear words I hear by far the most commonly among my Mexican in-laws, originally from Acapulco via Cancun, are pinche, mierda and cabron. They’re all good, though my favorite is escuincle. When they use it, usually as pinche escuincle, it doesn’t mean just a kid, it means a malignant, pain-in-the-ass brat.

  72. I just found escuincle/-cla in the DRAE. As etymology it gives:

    Del nahua itzcuintli, perro sin pelo  (hairless dog)

    It is said to be a depreciative term for “child” in Mexican Spanish. There is also the form escuintle/-tla.

  73. ¡Que chingasos!
    Thank you, that’s five (5) mistakes in one thread, none deliberate. A record is within my grasp …

  74. Moro is still current and a bit disrespectful in the Spanish of Spain (can’t speak for the New World), which makes me wonder what provoked its decline in English and German (as Moor and Mohr, respectively). Or maybe in Spain they’re just much more aware of North African Muslims, for historical and geographical reasons.

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