Sunday, 23 April 2006

Colorful language

Swear words have never been part of my vocabulary. My Surigaonon dialect has a lot to offer but then I chose not to use them because one, when I was still a high school student, I was a member of the Children of Mary (CoM) organisation (why it happened, I never know) and being a member entails a certain degree of piousness that for all intents and purposes never reached to the point of having halos on our heads. Second, my Nanay (bless her soul) had a ready handful of pepper to yank in my mouth just in case I utter just one word that would certainly take me to thy kingdom come.
Anyway, the commonly used swear word in Surigaonon is "Jawa" which means devil and is said in a fashion that bestows the recipient eternal damnation. I remember having used this word when I was playing "Jack's Stones" because I couldn't catch the f*cking ball and so I hurled all the stones while swearing. Some of the stones (and I mean real stones that I picked up from the road) went straight to my Tatay who was then having a siesta. Imagine the hell I had to go through just because of simply calling the devil.
The younger sister of "Jawa" is "Jatis" or "Jiwi" but I prefer/like the "Jatis" and it is one swear word that I use when I am flummoxed: "Jatis ra". Some of the swear words in Surigaonon originate from Tagalog language, like for example "Putanginamo" which means "You're sonofabitch". (Even swear words have gender stereotypes)
Here in England, cursing is new to me and using these words add a certain colour to my vocabulary. However, I didn't realise the enormity of the meaning because my husband never swears (well, he does sometimes, in front of me, and only when he refers to his annoying students) and he never explained which words are socially acceptable in terms of the kinds of people I am with.
I constantly hear the adjective "bloody" which could refer to anything, from potatoes to neighbors, from food to filth. For example, "It's bloody obvious that you're bleeding mad". Now, bleeding is a year younger than bloody and is usually uttered in the place of bloody to soften it a bit. The other word is obviously the F word, and I don't mean F as in Food, but you know what I mean. I don't like it (sometimes) and it sounds so rough anyway that I only write it, not speak it. The other common swear word that led me to trouble (well, up until last night I didn't realise I was in trouble until my husband explained it to me) is the word "Twat". I like the sound of it and I use it sometimes at work because I thought it is only equivalent to the word "crazy".
So last night, it dawned on me that when I said, "Oh, come on, Sam, have some more muffins, forget your diet, don't be a twat", I was actually swearing at her. The look on my manager's face didn't register to me.
I am still on maternity leave so I am still safe from showing my flushed face. At the moment, I am still reeling at the thought that I just called my colleague an idiot/plonker/georgebush/ fucker/tosser in front of my boss.


Lynneth said...

Hi Soy, funny how a language can play trick on our cultures! I had similar experience before with Japanese friends. Only I wasn't the one going red, it was them! Because "chin-chin" when we make a toast in French means something else in their language.... bon courage when you face your boss! ;-)

Analyse said...

oh my, i'm quite of an expert in the french language now..i know, i know, i have to tame myself.

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