Do the Welsh Swear?
I heard recently that Welsh swear words only entered into common use around 70 years ago. When trying to fact-check this, all I could find were questions asking whether Welsh had any swear words at all. There were similar posts online for many languages! For every post saying there weren’t any in a specific language, there were always two arguing the opposite. I was intrigued by the debate, so I’m afraid I’m going to add to the host of articles about this! Here it goes…
First of all, even if there are no “official” (i.e. dictionary-accepted) swear words in a language, you’d better believe that they exist and are used! One user posted on a Guardian article about languages without swearing that such an idiom could only belong to a country whose inhabitants were in complete agreement all the time. I don’t know how far I would agree with that statement. Mainly because people don’t just swear when they disagree. Pain, surprise, excitement, and just plain attention-seeking can all be reasons that someone would swear. So although I agree with the general sentiment of the post, that it is unlikely that any language has no swear words at all. I would add that it is much too narrow a statement to make.
Are the welsh too polite??
It has been suggested that there are languages which are so inherently polite and non-confrontational that it is nigh-on impossible to swear in them. Japanese is sometimes offered as an example of this. With the explanation that insults are generally formed by addressing someone with the wrong honorific title, or simply not being polite enough. Again, many people refute this, and give examples of swear words in Japanese. In fact, it seems that for every point raised in this discussion, someone has an equally valid counter-argument! Not very helpful when you’re trying to find out something…
Although I didn’t find out what I was actually trying to write about, I think this is a really interesting topic. Obviously one which is open to debate. Are you aware of any languages which don’t have swear words? If so, then please share your knowledge!
*Just in case you’re disappointed not to find out about swearing in Wales. I don’t know what the situation was 100 years ago, but I can confirm that swearing is indeed alive and well in Wales at present! Trust me, I’m Welsh!