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It's Much Prettier in Spanish: The Allure of Cursing in a Foreign Tongue

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I've been blogging for the Huffington Post for about a year now. My emphasis, of course, is on Latino culture and the issues that affect Hispanics. However, as I enter my second year of ranting, provoking, and prophesying, it's clear that I need to get one thing out of the way:

No, I will not teach you how to curse in Spanish.

As we all know, the first thing anyone ever asks to learn in a foreign language is how to insult a total stranger's parentage in as disgusting a manner as possible. Blasphemy is also hugely popular.

Why is this? Are we looking for some common bond across cultures, and the need to offend is prevalent around the world? Or is this just human nature to gravitate toward the basest level of communication? Or is it just more fun to shout, "hijo de puta!" than it is to murmur "como se llama"?

In any case, Spanish is not any more vulgar than English, and the context of the insults are pretty much the same.

If you really want to let someone have it, you have to go with Arabic. Most languages stop at "F*** you" or perhaps "F*** your mother." But an Arab friend once taught me an insult that basically translated to "May you be anally raped by a thousand lunatics and your severed corpse flung into the gutter to be devoured by a hundred rabid hyenas." Sadly, I have since forgotten how to pronounce this extremely handy phrase. However, with sentiments like that floating around the Middle East, I have a better understanding of why they are so damn tense there.

But again, what taboo are we seeking to transcend when we refer to human excrement in a foreign language? Why is that the first thing we try to learn, instead of "Where's a restaurant?" or "Can you break a twenty?" or something we might actually use?

Of course, even bringing up this subject is bound to offend some people. To those individuals, I can only offer my earnest apologies and humble expressions of remorse.

And let me just add, in the true spirit of sincerity, that you should go chinga tu madre.