On swearing


A month or so ago, as I was boring the pants off a small group of secondary school students on the Maresme coast with a talk about some dull language-related subject, it occurred to me, in my plodding old-man way, to liven things up for my captive audience by asking them about bilingual insults: was an 'hijo de puta', for example, worse than a 'fill de puta' or the other way round? Almost everyone thought that an insult in Spanish sounded harder than one in Catalan. This was confirmed with knobs on by those who had seen Tarantino's expletive-stuffed 'Pulp Fiction' in both Catalan and Spanish: his supposedly foul-mouthed gangsters just didn't ring true when using the vernacular of Jacint Verdaguer.
A pity that back then I couldn't have surprised and perhaps even pleasantly shocked those students with a taste of the finest Catalan cursing I have ever come across, published just a week ago in 'Missa Pagesa' ('Peasant Mass') by Dolors Miquel, whose public readings, in which she belts out what many people consider to be some of the best contemporary poetry in Catalan to the sound of music, never fail to bring the house down. In this new book, Miquel has assembled a formidable hoard of curses from her native Lleida and squeezed them into prayer form, as in her blasphemous feminist version of the Lord's Prayer: 'Our Mother who is in rut/hallowed be thy cunt'. Where she really lets her hair down, though, is in her 'homilies' to certain types of modern fool (get the book for more details): 'filthy goatlets, arse-licking twats who swallow it all/crumb-scrounging dogs, lickers of power-brokers/sitting there in the stalls for the tight-arsed/dunking bank-notes in your shitholes.' Quentin Tarantino, eat your heart out.

- Textos i contingut: Matthew Tree - Disseny i programació: Nac -