Knowing a foreign language can come in handy. Imagine being held at knifepoint by a criminal linguist who demands that you conjugate French verbs...or die. You’ll be sooo glad you took the time to learn the conditional tense of mourir. Or what if you get stuck in a faraway land with a serious bladder problem—like you’ve gotta go real bad. If you can’t fake your way through a sentence that expresses, “Please point my rapidly expanding pelvic region in the direction of your nearest washroom,” you might just end up with some soiled pantalones.
But foreign languages don’t merely have practical applications. As we all know, the best part of mastering a non-native tongue is discovering the curse words. Not only are they fun to say under your breath during class, but think of the new air of sophistication your English-language tirades will acquire when peppered with colorful bits of Swahili.
But why stop at simple swear words? We at SparkNotes have taken it upon ourselves to introduce you to some foreign slang that will bring your raging and ranting to a whole new level of poetry and absurdity. After all, “That’s not what your mom said” is only appropriate if it refers to what your friend’s mama actually did not say. But we digress:
Translation: “One whose face cries out to have a fist in it.”
How to use it: Forget classic insults such as “Dumbass” and “Jerkwad McButtface” when what you really mean to say is that a certain someone is beggin’ for a whoopin’. Fist, meet face. Huge German word, meet your vocabulary.
Pronunciation: Bah-koo shahn
Translation: “A woman who seems pretty when seen from behind, but not from the front.”
How to use it: Dudes, we’ve all been there: You see a potential hottie walking in front of you, but then she turns the corner and suddenly you notice an unmistakable Yeti resemblance. At this point, you are allowed to let out an exasperated “Bakku-shan!” and then take a picture of the beast so you can post it on the Internet.
Comme une vache Espagnole
Pronunciation: Come oon vash es-pon-yole
Translation: “Like a Spanish cow”
How to use it: This is a shorter variation on parler Français comme une vache Espagnole, meaning “to speak French like a Spanish cow,” a.k.a. “to completely butcher a beautiful Romance language.” But we think it can be applied to anything that’s been poorly done. Example: “Damn, I just got my test back, and apparently I do algebra comme une vache Espagnole.”
Translation: “A suitcase without a handle.”
How to use it: This basically refers to a crazy person. There are English equivalents to this description, including “a couple sandwiches short of a picnic.” But if you say that aloud in conversation, you risk sounding like an "edgy" comedian from the 1950s. Instead, unfurl this Portuguese blast and sound like a thoroughly cosmopolitan quipster from 2009.
Jiào nǐ shēng háizi zhǎng zhì chuāng
Language: Mandarin Chinese
Translation: “May your child be born with hemorrhoids.”
How to use it: We have no idea when it would be appropriate to use this phrase. However, it makes us happy that people somewhere say it, even if it’s just to wish an old-man condition on someone’s unborn child. What’s your comeback to this? “Well, may yours be born with a receding hairline!”
Do you use your foreign language skills for good or evil?