Insults are American as apple pie. Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, Don Rickles, even the great Mark Twain, who once described a person as "endowed with a stupidity which by the least little stretch would go around the globe four times and tie
," are all part of the great American put-down tradition. But a new book called "Uglier Than a Monkey's Armpit
," by language experts Stephen Dodson and Dr. Robert Vanderplank, shows that other countries like to curse just as much as our saltiest sailors, cab drivers and construction workers.
This invaluable compendium of colorful insults from the around the world reveals that, although we have different ways of putting down our fellow countrymen, insults are universal, even if some are lost in translation. Below are a few we liked best. 1. "A dog has licked your mouth!"
In Poland, as in other countries, animals are commonly used in insults. This fairly severe invective basically means, "Go to hell." For a more adorable Polish put-down, try calling someone a Motyla noga -- a "butterfly's leg."
To say it in Polish: "A pies ci mord liza!" 2. "Child of pudding"
This insult from Turkey is used to describe a person who's had life too easy. Just watch whom you say this to in Istanbul. As Dodson and Vanderplank warn in the book, "Insulting the wrong person at the wrong time and place, however inadvertently or unintentionally, could cost you your life" in Turkey. Too bad. Being a "child of pudding" sounds pretty delicious to us.
In Turkish: "Muhallebi çocu u"
3. "You are the kindest of all people with the softest of knees."
Here's an example in which the author of an insult was actually put to death. The 10-century Arabic poet al-Mutanabbi recited this satirical poem to a thief who tried to rob him. The "softest of knees" expression, apparently an allusion to being homosexual, so offended the bandit that he killed al-Mutanabbi on the spot.
In Arabic: "Ya atyab el nas nafsan we alyan al nas rukba" 4. "Fart-chicken!"
Flatulence is a fairly ubiquitous topic in insults around the world, especially in Iceland, where bodily functions rule vulgar conversation. If you want to insult someone's manhood in Iceland, you could say they have "ta skegglingur," which literally means "dried horse dung for a beard."
In Icelandic: "Prumphænsn" 5. "May thunder blast your head."
In Africa, many of the insults seek to invoke calamity on the heads of enemies. In America, we might say, "Damn you!" but we like the more descriptive version from the Igbo language. Poland has a similar curse, "Niech cie piorun trza_nie!" or, "May a thunderbolt hit you!"
In Igbo: "Egbe gbarie kwa gi isi"
6. "Go comb a monkey!"
In Portugal, it's very common for men to insult each other in everyday conversation. Their Spanish neighbors are quick with a put-down and have been known to use monkeys in insults as well, as in the titular "You are uglier than a monkey's armpit." ("Eres más fea que los sabacos de un mono.") We also enjoy the vivid Portuguese declaration, "Havia de te nascer um pinheiro no cu!" or "May a big pine tree grow out of your ass!"
In Portuguese: "Vai pentear macaco!"
7. "May the cat eat you and may the devil eat the cat!"
This Scottish insult wins points for including both an animal and the devil in one powerful put-down.
In Scots Gaelic: "Gun itheadh an cat thu agus gun itheadh an diabhal an cat" 8. "You have a pretty green hat."
This seemingly polite expression is actually one of the strongest insults in Chinese. It's used by men to insult other men by implying their wives are cheating on them. Supposedly, the colloquialism dates back to the Tang Dynasty, when male brothel workers wore green hats. Fine, but what do you do if you sincerely want to compliment someone on their green hat?
In Chinese: "Ni you piaoliang de lü maozi" 9. "She has an ass like a brewer's trolley!"
Germans love to curse, and it doesn't get much more German than a fat joke comparing someone's butt to a beer wagon. The language also lends itself well to name-calling, as in sitzpinkler
, "A man who pees sitting down."
In German: "Die hat einen Arch wie ein Brauereigaul" 10. "Son of a donkey!"
Donkeys, like dogs and monkeys, turn up a lot in insults around the globe. The Swedes might say of someone who can't make up his mind, he's like "a donkey between two stacks of hay." ("åsnan mellan två hötappar.") In Spain, you might say of someone who can't see the point of something, "You see less than three people on a donkey." ("Ves menos que tres en un burro.") And like the Persians, the Turks also say "Son of a donkey!" ("E so lu e ek") when they're extremely angry. What does everyone have against donkeys? 11. "Scum of soy paste!"
The Japanese, God bless 'em, are an exceedingly polite society, so their insults tend to lack the bite of traditional Western put-downs. Take, for example, their version of the "Yo Mama" joke: "Omae no kaachan, debeso!" or "Your mother's navel is an outtie!" Oh, no he di'nt!
In Japanese: "Misokkasu" 12. "That coat looks likes as if it's been pulled out of a cow's mouth."
Our favorite insults by far come from the Czechs, whose quaint rural idioms harken back to a simpler time. "He has the IQ of rustling grass" ("Má IQ ustící trávy"), you might say of someone who is notoriously stupid. A woman who mistakenly thinks she looks good might be told, "You look like a scarecrow for putting in a cabbage field." ("Vypadá jako stra ák do zelí.") And a person who looks lost or stupid might be snapped out of his daze with "You look like a cherub who's lost his soap in the bath." ("Kouká jako andelí ek, kdy mu uplavalo mejdlo.")
In Czech: "Ten kabát, jako kdy to kráve huby vytáhne"More from the Web:10 Coolest Foreign Words the English Language Needs
(Cracked)10 Insulting Words You Should Know
(Neatorama)The 10 Most Devastating Insults in History