Monday, February 26, 2018

How to Know When You're Ready to Curse in a Foreign Language by Olivia Ryan

People say you don’t know a foreign language unless you know to swear in it. As a matter of fact, swearing in a foreign language has become such a joy to many learners, some teachers will dedicate a class to it. While this may sound terribly wrong to some people, a course on the subject could actually be a good idea.

You've probably already met someone whose only knowledge of a foreign language is limited to a couple of swear words. This is one of the most interesting aspects of a language to many, but should they really learn it before they learn anything else?

The answer is no. Knowing how to swear is not something you should be really proud of, but knowing how to curse correctly is a certain achievement for some language learners. After all, this is a part of every language, and mastering the swearing can be as equally fulfilling as mastering any other part of the language.

While you may know a few swear words in a foreign language, you mightn't know how to swear until you have a certain level of knowledge of that language. You'll probably try to shoehorn these words into sentences and end up making no sense whatsoever. You may end up saying something you don't mean and causing offence, especially given that swearing is already offensive by nature. Using the wrong swear words at the wrong time can get you into serious trouble.

There is a fine line between using foreign language swear words and simply rambling words you learned along the way. You're ready to start swearing in a foreign language when:

1. People Don’t Slow Down in their Language to Help You Understand Them


At the beginning of your foreign language learning, you probably noticed how people slow down their speech intentionally to help you keep up. Even if you don’t ask people to do this, they will probably adjust their speech because you look scared and confused look and constantly ask them to repeat what they said.

When you finally get to the needed level of fluency, people will stop doing such modifications for you.

2. You Understand Their Humour


Everyone knows that humour doesn't translate. Only a person with solid knowledge in a language can start understanding the humour of said language, and this is a result of knowledge of both the speakers’ culture and speech.

Can you understand the comedy in the language, or do you still need someone to explain the jokes to you?

As soon as you understand the punch lines and jokes, you're one step closer to swearing. You should be proud of yourself – understanding humour is a great achievement for any foreign language learner.

3.  You Can Eavesdrop on Other People’s Conversations in the Foreign Language


Yes, it is not a good thing to do, but we all do it. When you finally find a person who speaks the language you are dedicated to learning, your instincts will probably make you eavesdrop, at least a little. It's hard not to get lost in someone else's conversation if you're trying to learn their language.

4. You Can Correct Your Own Mistakes


Being fluent in a foreign language does not make you a native speaker. You are bound to make mistakes from time to time.

The difference between a beginner and an advanced speaker is that the latter doesn't need others to to tell them when they make a mistake. If you can correct your mistakes as and when you make them, you're well on your way.

5. You No Longer Actively Focus on the Language


In the beginning of your learning adventures, you probably focused on the language a lot. New learners focus intently the language they're learning and try to grasp all the rules and understand how other speakers form their thoughts.

When you get to a phase where you are fluent in a language, everything will become second nature to you and you won't pay as much attention as you did when you first started.

6. You Know the Swear Words and How to Use Them


Many native speakers will be willing to teach you a few curse words if you are a foreigner. Just because you've heard them, it doesn't mean you can immediately start using them. Don't start cursing until you're comfortable with how they're used so you don't end up offending anybody.

Additionally, you don’t have to use swear words to know them. These are a part of a foreign language, and as any other part, they are worth learning, even if it's just to know when not to use them!

Olivia is an incurable optimist who always sees the glass as half-full. She likes nature, knows how to enjoy silence, and writes for various websites including Aussie Writing Service. Meet her on Facebook and Twitter.