Aided by books and ex-pats, Japanese learn to swear well in English


I taught ESL in Poland for two years. Learning to swear in another language is, usually, the first thing people (<30 years of age and/or of a certain level of maturity) want to know how to do.

This sort of material is, if you’re comfortable with swearing and swear words, funny and perhaps a fun way to learn a bit of another language. I’m reminded of a classic text that I found back in the BBS days of the versatility of the word “fuck” - it was definitely both informative and amusing.


learning to swear and asking “where is the washroom” is the first thing anyone should learn when studying a language.

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The Koreans are way ahead of them:

I’d also add to your list how to order a beer and how to say thanks. Also, “good day” or the local equivalent.

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Where did this gentleman learn how to curse? American movies?

This is hilarious, and useful, but I hope it doesn’t turn Japanese tourists into some kind of mini-Philadelphia. The rest of the country uses the F-word sparingly, but in Philly it modifies every other sentence. It has become a synonym for “very.”

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The picture of Edward Snowden on the page for “I don’t give a fuck” is pure gold.


Images from a curious work that aims to teach English via a retelling of Full Metal Jacket with cute manga characters were circulating a while back.


Of course the Japanese are fascinated by swear words: their own language has almost nothing in the way of “bad words”. You are basically reduced to politely explaining that you loath someone’s continued existence and it is your fondest wish that they die in disgrace since something like “you’re an asshole” isn’t available to you.

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the beer thing is easy enough to mime, so is beef and chicken.

Ittai nani ga?
The link is broken!

Omoshiroi desu ne! Apparently you can’t truncate language-switched URLs. Fixed, and noted for future reference.

I proper laughed at that one.

The only Japanese people I’ve ever known who could swear well in English had lived for at least five years in NYC. Somehow I doubt this book is going to change anything on the ground here but one can always hope.

I came to the comments to post this exact thing, but you beat me to it. I picked up a Maritan book ( ) at one of the Shosen bookstores during a 2007 trip to Tokyo. While a Japanese book teaching English swearing is definitely odd, an American buying said book in a Japanese bookstore might be half a step further down the rabbit hole.

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True, but they actually have pronouns that function as swear words. “Temee” literally means “you,” but the connotation is “you piece of shit.” (Thanks, shonen manga!)

Yeah. Kisama always seems to get translated as “bastard” or “you bastard” in anime subs. There’s a long explanation in one of the sub-annotations for Bleach, where it’s stated that Kisama was how a samurai would refer to his adversary or somesuch.

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