Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Where Swearing is all about context

Workers fired by President Felipe Calderón protested last month. One sign said Mr. Calderón would sell his mother if he could.

The electrical workers who were recently fired by President Felipe Calderón also clearly wanted the worst impression possible to be read into the protest signs they lofted. One banner, a tame one, referred to Mr. Calderón as a “pinche ladrón,” which can be translated as a “damn crook.” Pinche, though, can also be a word with no negative connotation at all, meaning a cook’s assistant.

Mexicans, despite their reputation in Latin America for ultrapoliteness and formality, curse like sailors, a recent survey found. They use profanity when speaking with their friends, with their co-workers, with their spouses and even with their bosses and parents. On Independence Day, the thing to shout above all else is “Viva Mexico, Cabrones!” a patriotic exhortation directed at either bastards or buddies, depending on the tone employed.

No comments:

Post a Comment