When we think back on high school, we all probably remember the excitement of discovering that there would be a new foreign exchange student in our class. This unique program offered us all the chance to learn about other cultures from firsthand experience -- meeting someone from a foreign land. The first thing we probably asked the foreign exchange student was, "So... What are some bad words in your language?" While we felt rebellious at the time trading swear words, verbal taboos like these are actually a valid part of any culture and are frequently studied by linguists and anthropologists. Given the increasingly connected state of all global cultures, there are now even more opportunities to learn foreign swear words (and uses for them). German is one of the most widely-spoken languages on Earth. In fact, after English, it is the most widely-used language on the Internet. The following words are some of the most widely-used swear words in German.
- First of all, remember to use these words responsibly. It can be dangerous to anger a stranger by swearing at him or her; use them cautiously in public. Also, do not use them in polite company or when you are around anyone you would like to impress (like a boss, future in-laws, or others). A good rule of thumb is to not use them around a group of people unless you have heard those people use those swear words in particular. For example, it would be appropriate to swear at your friend playfully only if you have already heard him or her also swear playfully at you or one of his or her other friends.
- A few important obscene, derogatory insults include:
Sack: Literally, "scrotum." While this body part isn't really obscene in English, it is in German. Imagine the circumstances in which you might feel like calling someone a scrotum -- when someone has made you angry by doing something stupid.
Arschloch: Translates literally as "asshole" and is used figuratively as "asshole" is used in English.
Trottel: "Fool, idiot."
Depp, Dummkopf, Vollidiot: These also roughly mean "idiot."
Schlampe: A "slut" or "floozie." Very insulting and derogatory to women.
Fotze: Literally, a vulva, used like the English "cunt." This is a VERY obscene word, so use it with extreme caution.
As you grin smugly at what you can now say in German, enjoy the fact that you have also learned about an important part of German culture.