C is for C– uh-oh.. C– oh, my… Cussing

C2016Cussing. No, I promised. No adult language. But Cussing is a C-word for which I have more than a little talent. I like the intensifiers and the transitive verbs. I like the broken-glass window into the culture in question.

My immigrant great-grandfather–who was a liar, by the way–insisted that there were no dirty words in his native languageAnd he said this with such angelic composure that people believed him. Until I came along. Hello, internet, and a list of words so colorful, I had to translate the translations for some of them.

So, in my current project, I find myself exploring insults and curses on a non-earth world. At the moment, I’m looking for just the right thing for a woman to say to her husband (in a unilateral marriage) when she finds out he’s lying to her.

So far, the insults have come from his culture, not hers.

His culture values family, so the worst of their insults are things that imply someone isn’t living up to their responsibilities, or isn’t capable of helping their family. Suggesting, for instance, that someone is competing for advancement when he should be working to rebuild after a tragedy. Suggesting that he would have to be forced into even the lightest, and most pleasurable work.

Her culture, on the other hand, is much more class-conscious. If she wants to insult someone, she’ll probably point out their lowly status, or poverty.

And frequently, the insults just don’t translate. They may know they’re being insulted, but they’re not too likely to understand the exact reasons that what’s said is an insult. They confuse each other, and learn from the experience.


  1. Reply

    LOL, Your grandfather sounds like a character. A great BS’er—too funny.

    What fun making up insults. I would call that stockpiling the clever.

  2. Reply

    Very smart writing! I’ve made it point in my travels and through friends from different nationalities to ALWAYS learn the curse words first in that language! They come in handy. Good luck with the A to Z challenge!

  3. Reply

    Nice! Cussing and idioms are two of the things that can make it easy to define a culture with words. What an excellent use of language building. 🙂

  4. Reply

    Interesting – I never really thought about insults varying by culture, except for the Chinese curse “May you live in interesting times.” 🙂

    @dSavannahCreate from
    #AtoZChallenge2016 theme: dSavannah Defects

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