#99 Swearing in a Foreign Language
submitted by Ryan
Nothing makes the EAW who is trying too hard feel like he or she has “been around” more than swearing in front of other EAWs in a language which is neither their native tongue nor the language of the country they are in at that time. However it should be noted that this classic attempt to impress fellow EAWs and local colleagues can easily backfire.
Swearing in a foreign language is not an uncontrolled outburst of expression. Rather this form of obscure nonsensical swearing is done entirely as an effort to establish field cred. In most cases other EAWs don’t know the meaning of the word that their co-worker is saying. The word will, however, be easily identified as an expletive because of its precise placement into the sentence.
What the EAW may not realize is that he or she is tacitly allowing other, savvier EAWs to establish field cred by giving them the opportunity to not call the EAW out on how illogical it is that they are purposefully inserting an expletive into their sentence. Because, duh, chances are that if the outburst of frustration and self-expression were truly an uncontrollable one, the whole sentence would have been said in the foreign language. This misjudgment of the swearing EAW will have a lasting impression on other EAWs and may influence field cred ranking in the future. Everyone knows that isolated swear words are the first thing everyone memorizes when learning a new language.
Swearing in Spanish is the most likely to backfire because, come-on, we ALL know the basic swear words of Spanish from watching movies and listening to music back in the day. A common scenario in which swearing in Spanish fails is when the EAW says “puta madre” and another EAW says something like “got some Cypress Hill on your playlist these days?” rather then saying “wow, you really went native in Latin America when you were meeting the locals!”
Another common way that this vain and foolish attempt at establishing field cred backfires is when a wise and crusty EAW overhears this foreign language expletive and says something like… “would you now like me to ask you about living in Not-here-swear-istan” or even worse when another EAW who is actually fluent in this foreign language says a series of sentences back to the look-at-me-I’m-swearing-in-a-foreign-language EAW in that language and the EAW draws a blank… This establishes monstrous field cred and respect for the other EAW from all EAWs within earshot.
One-upping is a key part of EAW culture, and as can be seen, even something as simple as swearing in a foreign language has complex and contextual cultural implications that help to establish hierarchy within the EAW community.
It’s important to swear with care.