Disclaimer: There will be cuss words in both French and English in this post. If that is going to offend you, please feel quite free to skip it and move on!
After half a year in France, I’ve just finally begun to figure out cussing in French. And boy is it weird.
Here’s the thing. And I didn’t realize this until I went to see Django Unchained with French subtitles: they don’t actually seem to* have all the cussing variability the English language so generously provides.
For instance: “putain” is supposedly the French version of F—. However, I quickly caught on that it isn’t used like f–k. It doesn’t seem to hold the same power. I mean, it’s by no means a good word, but it doesn’t quite have that, well, rape connotation to it (I should specify here and say that the original definition of f–k did have rather violent sexual connotations that don’t necessarily exist anymore, although they do kind of provide an undercurrent). It felt more like a cross between damn and f**k. Not quite as bad or soft as either.
Upon further consideration though, I discovered something interesting. “Putain” is completely different! Haha, it seems logical, but it just doesn’t have the same usage, connotation or meaning. It stems from “whore,” but the usage is a mix between f–k, damn and shit. Because the word for shit is used for a much more specific situation where things have really turned sour.
Anyway. I just wanted to say to y’all. Cursing. Doesn’t. Translate.
*added after original publish. Keep in mind that I’ve only been here 6 months.