Hey Cluj! Hello fellow English learners.
So, some of you may be learning English, like me, through self study. We may watch Netflix, or read books, or newspapers, and think that those help us speak like a native.
Well, you might have shocked a few English natives with your Netflix English before. Real English speakers have much milder alternatives to swear words than British and American screenwriters do.
Remember, many screenwriters directors and even actors in Hollywood are foreigners. Joe Eszterhas was born in Hungary. Perhaps Hollywood people do not know English well enough to express their surprise in a polite way. Yes, you know that by now.
But did you know that bible words can also shock? Here are some words that you might have read in the English bible that will shock English speakers.
- In the bible, this means donkey. But many Americans, including those who claim to read the bible, do not know that. To them, it is their behind, and a curse word. Or to older Americans, it might mean a stupid person. So, if you are referring to the animal, or even a stupid person, use ‘donkey’.
- This means a prostitute. This word is considered impolite outside of quoting the Bible. In modern English, a shortened version is used by rappers, who will also use stronger swear words.
- Someone born out of wedlock. Perhaps a child of the last entry. Although common in the Bible, if you use it too often in other contexts the movie of your life could get a PG-13 rating. There is no polite single-word alternative, the label itself is offensive to some people. (Mostly however, people are not labelled as ‘bastards’ for being born out of wedlock, rather for being unkind. It is weird, I know, are people less kind if their parents are not married?)
- A male of the chicken species. Please use ‘rooster’ instead when talking to Americans, unless you are quoting from the Bible. When speaking to Brits, you can use ‘cockerel’. In modern American, this is part of the anatomy, and sometimes used as a swear word.
- Hell. Damnation. If you hear these words outside of a religious context, they are probably being used as mild swear words, and should not be taken literally. Some English speakers do not like them. You might hear them use Doggone, Heck or Tarnation instead, or use other words that make no sense in the context.
- A bible character who was apparently a great hunter, but Daffy Duck turned it into an insult to mean stupid.
- Then there are the words that certain religions do not like hearing or writing out of the right context. Some orthodox Jews will put a dash through the o in God, like G-d, because of the way they interpret the Bible. Other people think someone who repeatedly says ‘oh my God’ sounds like ‘an airhead’ or stupid. You sound more intelligent if you say something that fits the context, like ‘wow’ or ‘that’s great’ or ‘I’m sorry to hear that.’
In some children’s shows, they will use, ‘Oh brother’, like the Romanian ‘Frate’. Or, ‘oh man’. It is comical to hear ‘oh my gosh’ to be less offensive, it just sounds like you are swearing with a speech impediment to me. But they also used to say ‘Gee Whiz’, another speech impediment to let others know that they really want to swear.
There are others, but I think we covered the big ones. Until next time!