I ran across Bernard Nežmah’s wonderful “Fuck this Article: The Yugoslav lexicon of swear words” (translated from “Ne vrediš ni pola pizde vode!” in Mladina) shortly after it came out late in 2000 and e-mailed the link to everybody I knew; now that I’ve been reminded of it by aldi at Wordorigins, I’m sharing it with you all. It’s a report on an international conference about Serbian swear words in Novi Sad, with many, many pertinent examples. A few excerpts:
Another participant, entomologist Dr Biljana Sikmić, is researching gradation units. The same gradations are found in the Slovene and Serbian lexicons of obscenities. She showed that the gradation is the same when the Slovenes say Ni vreden pol kurca! (you ain’t worth half a cock) and the Serbs say Ne vrediš ni pola pizde vode (you ain’t worth ha[lf] a cunt of water)…
Prof Dr Nedeljko Bogdanović, the doyen of Serbian swear-word studies, explained the difference between curses and swearing: the first merely degrades, while the second is malicious. So someone curses you with a blow to your favorite tree in your garden, throwing out: “May it never grow plums!” while someone swears at you to belittle your greatest pride: “Fuck you AND your plums!”
There is an old political joke: Do you know where the border between Serbia and Montenegro is?—It is where you stop fucking mothers and start fucking fathers!
I’m not sure I believe this, though: “When Vojvodinan Slovaks, Rusyns and Hungarians swear, they only swear in Serbian, saving their own languages for more noble expression.” Hungarians, at least, have some powerful swear words of their own.