Tuesday, June 7, 2016

At a Loss for Curses?



The Paucity of Curse Words in Japanese
languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu  September 4, 2014 · Filed by Victor Mair

In "Ichiro Suzuki Uncensored, en Español:  Between the Lines, Japanese Star Is Known as a First-Class Spanish Trash Talker", via Andy Cheung, the Yankees outfielder is quoted thus:  "…we don't really have curse words in Japanese, so I like the fact that the Western languages allow me to say things that I otherwise can't."

What?  A language with no swear words?

I'm not one of those folks who makes a specialty of mastering the foul vocabulary of languages I learn, but willy-nilly I generally pick some up just by virtue of keeping my ears open.

China has its traditional "national swear word" (guómà ) — "his mother's" (妈的) — and the newer, but equally ubiquitous, niúbī 牛逼 ("awesome" < "cow cunt"), plus whole books full of other colorful expletives.

The worst pejorative I know of in Japanese is baka ("fool; idiot; stupid"), which has a long history going back to at least the 14th century.  I seem to recall that if you want to make baka sound really bad you can extend it as bakayarō.


 Other Japanese "swear words", if that is what you'd call them, have to do with crepitation* (breaking wind) and excrement.  For example, you can call someone a hekoki 屁こき ("farter"), but that cannot begin to compare with one of my favorite Chinese put-downs, gǒupì 狗屁 ("dog fart"), which you use when you want to disparage someone else's words.  Overall, the inventory of Japanese swear words is both lame and tame when compared to that of other languages with which I am familiar.

Perhaps yakuza (gangsters) and other underworld types have some special, secret swear words that are unknown to the general public, but one thing that seems to be completely taboo in Japan is to make unseemly references to another person's mother, especially to her anatomy.


You may feel that it is worth learning some insulting words in Japanese, but the reality is that most people don't need to learn them. 

In Japanese, not using polite language may be considered insulting enough by itself. See What is Japanese respect language?
 
*crepitate as a word for farting... 

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From: sljfaq.org

Japanese (kana)
Japanese (romaji)
English translation
Swearing and general insults
くたばれ!
kutabare!
Go to hell! Literally means "Drop dead!", from kutabaru (くたばる), die, kick the bucket, etc.
しんじまえ
shinjimae
Drop dead, go to hell. From shinu plus shimau. See What are the chau, cha verb endings?
くそくらえ!
kuso kurae!
Eat shit!
くそったれ
kusottare
Literally "shit drip"
きさま
kisama
Rude word for "you" (see also What are the personal pronouns of Japanese?)
どけ!
doke!
Get out of the way!
こいつ、あいつ
koitsu, aitsu
A contemptuous expression for a third party. Either extremely rude, or very familiar. Also a rough way of saying "this" or "that". From koyatsu (こやつ), ayatsu (あやつ).
手前
temae
A rough way of saying "you". See also What are the personal pronouns of Japanese? Often changed to temee. See What are itee and sugee?
このやろう
Kono yarou
"You shit", "You blighter" etc. General expression of anger, usually directed to men.
やつ ()
yatsu
Unpleasant person, disliked person
やつめ
yatsume
ちくしょう
chikushō
Oh shit! Oh blast! Oh hell!
やかましい
じゃかまし~!
yakamashii
jakamashi~!
Shut up!
うるさい
うざい
urusai
uzai
Shut up!
最低
saitei
Worst possible, rotten, disgusting
いい加減にしろ
ii kagen ni shiro
Stop messing around
ふざけるな
fuzakeru na
Stop being stupid
me
Added as a suffix to other words to make them more contemptuous. See this note.
Stupidity
あほ
aho
Fool! Idiot! Moron!
ばか (馬鹿)
baka
Idiot! Fool!
ばかやろう (馬鹿野郎)
bakayarō
Idiot! Fool!
まぬけ
manuke
Clueless, loser (literally "out of rhythm" or "missing a beat")
のろま
noroma
Twit, dunce, slowpoke
へたくそ
hetakuso
Clumsy/lacking skill
どじ
doji
Clumsy or clueless
ぼけ
boke
Clueless, dumb, stupid, unaware. See What does boke mean?
とろい
toroi
Slow to catch on, doesn't "get it".
Body and sex
ぶす
busu
Ugly woman, "dog"
でぶ
debu
Fatso, fattie
へんたい (変態)
hentai
Perverted, pervert
スケベ
sukebe
Lech/lecher
いやらしい
iyarashii
disgusting, lewd, indecent
やりまん
yariman
Slut
屁こき
hekoki
Farter
People
くそがき
kusogaki
Unpleasant child/bad-mannered child
わるがき
warugaki
Brat, bad child
くそじじい
kusojijii
Old fart/Unpleasant old man
くそばばあ
kusobabaa
Old fart/Unpleasant old woman
ちび
chibi
Shorty, runt, undersized person
Personality
くちきたない
kuchikitanai
Talks unpleasantly, negative, bitchy
けち
kechi
Stingy, mean
ずるい
zurui
Unfair, selfish, conniving
ださい
dasai
Unfashionable, lame, not cool
くそまじめ
kusomajime
Over-serious, swot, goody-two-shoes
オタク
otaku
Creep, obsessive, nerd. See also What is an otaku?
意地悪
ijiwaru
Malicious, spiteful, bitchy
やぼ()
yabo (na)
Boorish, uncouth
弱虫
yowamushi
Wimp, coward
腰抜け
koshinuke
Coward
嘘つき
uso tsuki
Liar
きもい
kimoi

Suffixes like me () or yarō (野郎) may also be added to emphasize, like koshinuke yarō (腰抜ケ野郎) "cowardly git" or hentaime (変態奴) "pervo". 

See also What is the yagaru verb ending? for an insulting verb ending, and What are itee and sugee? for other rough talk.
For books, see also
for more offensive language. 

External links

If you have questions, corrections, or comments, please contact Ben Bullock or use the discussion forum

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