When I was younger, I had always been a good boy, and never used any swear words.
Like in English, most Chinese swear words have some sexual indications, similar to fxxk, cxxt, etc. As an innocent boy, I didn’t even know what they meant. To me, they were just dirty, and only bad boys would use them. One of the magic words is “他妈的” (Tar Mar De), which literally means “his mother’s (cxxt is omitted here)”. Just like the magic English word “fxxk”, this one can be added to any part of a sentence. I once heard two boys yelling at each other on the street, and they used “他妈的” more than ten times in just one minute. So I decided to keep away from them, because I didn’t want to be poisoned.
When Chinese parents are mad at their kids, they often use the expression of “不是人肏的” (boo sher djen tsau der). Once I did something wrong, and my mom was mad at me. I wanted to apologize and said to her “Mom, I will never do it again. Otherwise ‘我(means I, myself)不是人肏的’”. When she heard that, she got even more angry, as it literally means “I was not made by humans”, which is similar to the English term “son of a bitch”. I had no idea why my mom got so angry, as that was what she would have called me every time she was mad at me… I was so confused, and wanted somebody to explain to me why. So later I told one of my teachers this story, but she just kept laughing and laughing…
Years later, I realized using swear words wisely didn’t make me a bad guy at all, so I adopted them too. At the beginning, it seemed to be a little harsh, but as time went on, it became more and more natural. We had a high school reunion several years after our graduation. When I was talking, one of my friends looked at me strangely and said “Wow, I could never imagine that perfect boy in high school using swear words! But I’m glad you are finally a “normal” person…”
Some swear words are milder than others. One example is “我操” (wo tsau), which means “I fxxk” or with a better translation as “what the fxxk”. In a 1990’s Chinese movie, a comedian from Hong Kong created an even more gentle version by changing the pronunciation of second syllable slightly, so it became “我靠” (wo kau). Nowadays, you hear the second version much more often. There’s a funny story (may not be true), but it would be interesting to tell. In 1990, the Asian Games was hosted in Beijing. During the competition, a Chinese weightlifter said “我操” when he attempted to lift the barbells, as it was a little heavier than he expected, but he managed to lift it. A Japanese journalist was curious and asked his Chinese colleague what that weightlifter said. His colleague thought it was kind of shameful, so he told the Japanese guy it was just to cheer him up. Then the Japanese guy told the Japanese spectators about it, so when a Japanese weightlifter went on the stage, “wo cau, wo cau…” could be heard all over the stadium.
Well, that’s all for today, my friends. I don’t want turn you into bad boys or girls… LOL