Friday, 22 June 2012

Euroswears 2012, QF2

But first . . . yesterday’s game. My prediction, based on a scientific and rigorous analysis of national swears, was victory for Portugal. And so it was. That makes it one out of one. Let’s see how we do today.

2. Germany vs Greece

Greece first. Ancient then modern. Old Greeks, Athenians, in particular, pretty much invented the idea of the national slur. To them, everyone who wasn’t a Greek was a barbarian. Filthy English, page 237:

This was a judgement based on a Greek view of the sound of non-Greek languages - they sounded like baa-baa-baa. Mexicans are making the same judgement when they refer to Americans as gringos - it's Mexican Spanish for gibberish.

That was then, though. What about now? The central word to modern Greek swearing is malaka. It’s to Greek what fuck! is to English, putain! is to French and kurwa! is to Polish. Malaka is fit for all purposes. Translation? Well, fuck=sexual intercourse. Putain=whore. Kurwa=whore. Malaka=masturbator. Maybe there is no link between those words and the accompanying  national psyches. Or maybe there is.

Now for Germany. Its swearing really is big on shit. Scheisse! etc etc. Filthy English, page 125:

Anscheissen means to shit on, literally and figuratively. It also means to scold, to berate, to tell off, to bollock or even to report. Not just any old reporting, though, but a particularly kind of reporting, as in Er schiss mich bei der Polizei an - he reported me to the police. Bescheissen, which also translates as to shit on, means to cheat. Beschissen is shitty, fucked-up. A Klugscheisser is a smarty pants, not as clever as he talks.

How do the Germans match up against the Greeks in terms of masturbation? Well, one of their favourite terms is mathematical: fünf gegen einen (five against one).

Actually it also sounds like a German formation or game-plan, doesn’t it. And for that reason (plus the sheer variousness of Germanic shits), my scientific assessment is that Germany’s swearing superiority will lead their to Teutonic triumph tonight.

PS1 One of my correspondents pointed out that knowing a little about a nation’s swearing affords the TV viewer an opportunity to lip-read the players, officials and fans. I find it hard to imagine close attention to tonight’s contest won’t reveal at least one malaka! and a scheisse! or two.

PS2 A friend of mine asked me to let you know something. He writes for The Arts Desk, an online resource. It’s just been voted Best Specialist Journalism Site of 2012. But don’t let that put you off. Ha, ha. It actually is really good. Lots of reviews, mostly slightly longer than you’d get in a daily newspaper. Well-informed, too and light on sneering. The writing’s pretty good also. Anyway, it’s here.

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