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Canadian Expatriates, its contributors, and readers have been invited by Foreign Affairs Canada to participate in a series of eDiscussions. The current topic is “Showcasing Canadian Culture and Know-How Abroad”.

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    Wednesday, April 08, 2009

    Tried any new languages?
    by mare ad mare

    "It's like wiping your ass with silk, I love it!"  is the famous quote from The Matrix movie, about how French is the best language and that he loves to swear in French.

    Now like any good canadian - I swear like a sailor.  BUT - it's not exactly business language or generally accepted...  So I found a way around it.  I learned how to swear in multiple languages!
    I went to school in French immersion, and grew up about an hour from the Quebec border - so of course I can swear in French, but that's not my true love.  I love swearing in Portuguese!  

    How it all started, foda-se!
    It all started one looooooooooooooong weekend in China.  It may seem like an odd place to discover swearing in Portuguese, but we were deploying a new software release in our Suzhou factory, when on a Friday afternoon - 5 days before the go live - we found a problem.  The basic problem was that the local test team didn't test this 'critical' aspect, but the bigger problem was that we now had a very short time to fix the problem and it was somebody else's old code.  So where does the Portuguese come in?  Well, the developers and most of the deployment team with me, were Portuguese.  We got on the phone with one of the developers in Portugal who had inherited the code, and we were making slow progress in English - so as normal, I told the Portuguese deployment guy I had with me, Tiago, to talk to him in Portuguese to get the process moving.  The guy in Portugal went off.  I had been around the Portuguese guys for some time, and it's relatively close to french - so I was able to decipher quite a bit, but there were some things that I didn't know - that he would roll through over and over again.  Once the local team gave up for the day and left, so I asked Tiago what he was saying...  and that's how it all started.  I said it was a long weekend, Tiago and I spent about 40 hours over that weekend in the factory trying to fix this stupid problem.  By the time the weekend was over - I had mastered half of the Portuguese swearing I know now ;-)    
    BTW - the project was cancelled... we figured out the problem, but the locals came in on the Monday, and cancelled the upgrade on us... we went drinking :-P

    Not all languages have interesting words
    Chinese swearing - doesn't exist.  At least I could never get it out of them.  They blushed everytime I asked.  The worst I got basically translated to 'pig'.  ooooooooooooo.  Maybe someone out there knows?

    I also lived and worked in Germany for a few years, and since most of them spoke english I pulled out the Portuguese swearing when I was really in a foul mood.  But I did get to learn some of the local vocabulary.  One of the first things I learned, was how to respond to the regular morning question - how are you doing today?  To which I needed to respond 'crappy'...  On top of the regular bad words, I was told how to insult Germans from the varying parts of Germany.  One of these loosely translated to have something to do with marmalade... not sure how that would be insulting, but my teacher was very impressed with my ability to pronounce the confounded words properly.

    Where and When is important...
    As I travelled from place to place so often, I would use the different languages to blow off steam in the opposite places.  While my favorite was always Portuguese, and could get away with it in most places - I had to switch to German when in Portugal, unless I was in the company of friends and then they appreciated my knowledge of their language and proper pronunciation ;-)  

    So I'll put the question out there - have you learned any new languages?  More importantly - can you curse in those languages?  How many?  Which ones?!?

    I can't be the only one...

    Labels: , , ,

    Posted by mare ad mare at 9:46 AM

    I have (mostly) learned Catalan, I can curse in it, but do so infrequently....unlike in English where I curse all the frickin' time.

    Well, not all the time, but richly when I want to.

    In Japan swearing is surprisingly common. I hear teachers swearing at students, moms at dads and grandmas at grandkids. In direct translation it's shocking what they say to each other but the words in their native tongue are meant to be relatively harmless.

    I think it's so much interesting to about any new thing.Just like new people,new environment and also new languages!

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