Hello and welcome to the rather unscrupulous affair of taking a sticky dip into the swear words of a foreign language! Other languages use different phrases to swear, but they can sound strange when translated into English. See if you can see pick them out in the following paragraphs.
There is no disclaimer here. If you somehow wander through this post and are shocked at the swearing, my old sky, you probably often find yourself in strip clubs, screaming about nudity. In other words, I will fuckin’ say what I goddamn please.
Another thing: there are countless ways to swear in any language. This isn’t an exhaustive list. If you want that, you can quickly roll away. I mean, what the ghost do you want from me? Alright, I’ll stop awkwardly using roughly translated Chinese curse words.
Chinese swears can roughly be broken into four categories: Superstition, Acts, Family, and Body parts. What sets their swearwords apart is the heavier emphasis on family, particularly ancestors.
Wŏ de tiān! [woah duh tee-yan]
Oh, my God!
The full sentence is actually “wŏ de lǎo tiān yé!” which translates roughly to “My old sky grandfather!” This isn’t so much a swear word as something they might yell. You might be wondering ‘Why don’t they just say “oh my god”’? Well that’s because they were and are an atheistic society, so they have no god to demand answers from or to summon. I sometimes clench my firsts and scream to the heavens, “Wèi shén me, wŏ de lăo tiān?!” (Why, my old sky?!) It even gives me answers sometimes… or maybe that’s just the birds.
Shén mè gǔi! [shen muh gway]
What the hell!
As the title suggests, this is roughly equivalent to “What the hell” and makes just about as much sense as it. Why is it “the hell”? Who knows. Likewise with ghosts: it roughly means “I don’t know what the hell this thing is.”
Qù sǐ [chu suh]
Pretty light, hardly a swear – telling someone to kill themselves. Rude, sure, but not a swear word. And, really, you’re just telling someone to go do something they will eventually do anyway, right? Say this to anyone and they’ll eventually be forced to obey.
Wŏ hùi qŭ nĭ de gŏu mìng [woah hway chu nee duh go ming]
I’ll take your dog life
I’ll kill you
Again, hardly a swear. Another way of saying this one is “I’ll take your life” but throwing “dog” into the mix makes it something akin to both calling the person a dog while threatening to kill them. It’s the whip cream and cherry on top of the shit sundae you’re serving. It might be archaic and outdated, but there it is.
Now we’re getting into the meat of things. It’s pretty directly translated, so… no need to pry further.
Cao ni (insert family member) [Tsao nee…]
fuck your family member
Fuck you and yours
This is somewhere between an act and a family swear. I’m putting it here because it’s basically the same as the last one with a treasured target. The hierarchy of family members and their related severity can be found in the family section.
wǒ cào/kào/qù [woah tsao / cow / chu]
So cào and kào are the same word, but apparently they think that the K sounds better than the TS sound of the C. Either way, it’s the same word. Qù [choo] however, is a different word altogether.
Ever wonder what people say in other languages during sex? Well here’s one of the things they say in Chinese! In English, we might say “I’m coming!” but in Chinese they say “I’m going!” or “I’m about to go!” Whether they’re coming or going, we can’t be sure, but what we can know is that it is a sexual reference in a similar way to “fuck.” Well, at least in this context.
Gǔn kāi (goo-in kai)
So you could just say “gŭn” [goo-in] to someone, which means to roll. Stop, drop, and gŭn. But if you add “kāi,” that makes it a little worse. I don’t fully understand why either version means “fuck off,” as the image of someone rolling away is funny to me. If you want a less rude way of telling someone to go away, you could say “zŏu kāi” which is “go away.” Or, if you’d make it slightly worse, tell them “xiàn zài gŭn kāi” [she-en z-eye goo-in k-eye] (hey, it rhymes) as it means you want them to do it right this instant. Roll away!
Wŏ de mā! (woah duh mah)
Oh, my God!
Again, this technically isn’t so much of a swear word as it is an expression of “Woah!” or “Oh shit!” It can be surprise, excitement, or amazement. I’ve had women say both this, and “My sky!” when I wandered into a building, presumably because of my shocking form of beauty. Or maybe it’s just my height.
Tā mā de [tah mah duh]
In Chinese, when you say my, you add “de” after the pronoun. If you want to say my dog’s something or other, it would be “wǒ de gǒu de…” but that sounds redundant, right? And like most languages, the speakers are lazy and drop off excessive words, whittling it down to “wǒ gǒu de…” That’s what’s happening here. So “you are his mom’s ugly” would roughly translate to “you are really fucking ugly.” Who would have thought?
This is like the toy gun you stumbled across as a kid, playing around with it and aiming at squirrels until the kickback goes off and the squirrel is reduced to a puff of fur. Logically, it sounds silly to non speakers. It’s just a series of sounds that carries no weight, just like foreign currencies often feel like monopoly money. I pulled it out as a joke on my girlfriend and she reacted like I physically slapped her. Shit’s got kick.
nĭ tā mā de shì shúi? [nee ta mah duh shurr shay?]
You his mom’s are who?
Who the fuck are you?
Clearly, the direct translation doesn’t really make sense in English, but if you think about it, neither does the English form. Who the hell/fuck are you? We intuitively know what it means but it doesn’t actually make sense. More than anything, this is just an example of the above.
Zhēn tā mā dè hăo! [Jen tah mah duh how!]
Truly his mom’s good!
Really fucking good!
This was actually the first I came across, and it confused me to no end. Why is it his mom? Who is he? Actually, in spoken Chinese, he, she, and it are all the same sound (tā), but the character clarifies that it’s his. So here’s the best reason as to why it’s his and not my or your mom: When it comes to Chinese, there are levels of offensiveness. My mom is cool, no worries about that. Not as swear. As my girlfriend said, “Who uses their own mom to swear?” But if we start talking about other’s moms, then… Yes, yes it is.
1) His mother’s – tā mā de
2) Your mother’s – nĭ mā de
3) Your grandmother’s – nĭ năi năi de
4) Your Ancestor’s – nĭ zŭ zōng de
The imaginary “he” is not present to be offended, so it’s find to say. That is, unless you gesture to some dude or dudette in the process of saying it… in which case, you might want to go get checked out because you might be a jerk.
Cào nĭ mā! [Tsao nee mah]
Fuck your mom!
This one can either be equated to “Fuck you” or “Mother Fucker,” as I don’t think there are any other close equivalents. Again, the above hierarchy applies for the degree of severity.
This could be classified as an act, or as family, so I thought I’d toss it down here just before the next one, as it applies if you add a “dè” onto the end of the swear, making it “Cào nĭ mā dè bī!”
Qù nǐ mā de… [chu nee mah duh]
Go your mom’s…
Read on to figure out what that addition means.
This isn’t a full swearword in it’s own right. You may have noticed an abundance of hanging possessives – his mom’s, your mom’s, etc. That might have left you wondering “His mom’s what? is this some sort of typo?” It wasn’t.
The full sentence for every single one of those, though often neglected, is “His/Your mom’s vagina.” Feel free to go back and fill in the blanks, but I didn’t feel like shoving this down your throat with every single iteration, particularly since they don’t when they speak, either.
Níu bī [neo bee]
For whatever reason, Chinese heavily focuses vaginas for it’s swearing, and hardly any other body parts. In this case, however, it’s a good thing!
I still don’t understand why a cow’s vagina is such a great thing… but it’s a newer swear word that the younger generation says today. Like most swear words, it’s not something you want to be pulling out in front of the elders.
It can also be shortened to the letters NB. I wonder how this affects New Balance sales…
Shă bī [shah bee]
The dark side of vaginas (I guess?), if you call someone a silly vagina, you’re really calling them a stupid cunt. To be fair, shă can mean both silly and stupid.
Nĭ shì shén me jībā dōngxī [nee shur shen muh jee-bah d-oh-ng she]
You are what dick thing?
Who the fuck are you?
Another way to say the same ol’ “Who the hell are you?” In chinese, if you call someone a thing, a “dōngxī,” then you’re saying they’re an object. This is bad, just like in english. The catch: to say someone is not a dōngxī, then you’re saying they’re not even good enough to be a thing. It’s the equivalent to calling them an asshole.
I guess calling them a dick thing is like calling them some sort of dirty thing that people don’t really want to see or interact with before a couple drinks and some consent. Remember: dicks are like religions. It’s fine to have one and great to be proud of it, but please don’t display it in public… and for the love of God, don’t try to force it on anyone. Or was it the other way around?
Now you’ve had a crash course in Chinese swear words. I hope you’re proud of yourself. I take interest in such things because I have a twisted mind and I feel that learning the swear words of a language will tell you something about their people. What does this say about the Chinese? Well, they revere their ancestors and parents, and are an atheistic country. Whatever else you take away from this is yours to take.
Now go take a shower, you filthy animal.