High- sounding words , swear words , profanity, or foul language refer to words that are considered obscene or rude, such as name-calling, derogatory sexual references, or phrases intended to offend.
The word high-sounding is composed of the prefix alti- (high) and sonante, of sound. While it can be assumed that these are words that “sound loud”, in reality it refers to words that are big, or rather, swear words.
High-sounding word types
The writer Carlos Laguna, in his book Palabras y curse words , divides high-sounding words into five main groups:
1- Those that compare with animals
For example, if someone is called a “donkey” it refers to the low intellectual capacity of the insulted person. If you call him a “bastard” you want to express that he is suffering an infidelity on the part of his partner.
If he is called a “pig”, he refers to the non-existent hygiene of the interlocutor. It wants to express that it is disgusting or dirty.
2- Those that revolve around sex or sexual preferences
It is derogatory if a woman is called “whore”, or if a man’s manhood is questioned by yelling “sarasa” at him in a pejorative way.
3- Those whose central word is linked to intercourse
This type, like many insults, varies by region. For example, in some countries it is often said “you are depraved” to indicate that a person has a certain obsession with sex.
4- Those where the mother is the center of the insult
“Your mother’s lame” is an insult with various uses in countries like Spain, where the same description is applied to indicate that her mother is physically unattractive or that she is a prostitute.
There are other high-sounding phrases in which reference is made to the sexual organs of someone’s mother, or it is expressed that someone’s mother is a prostitute.
5- About someone’s low intellectual capacity
Phrases such as dork, chump or idiot are worth to detract from someone’s intellectual capacity.
Unique semantic loading
The Mexican professor Margarita Espinosa presents an investigation in which she concludes that the semantic load of rudeness is unique, so that it cannot be replaced by other words.
He also adds that certain rudeness can have an offensive spectrum that, for example, could range from a simple “fool” to a more complex “asshole”, which would carry a greater offensive charge.
Are there bad words?
Actually the words are not bad; In this case, the intention with which they are said may be negative, but there is a kind of social agreement on the offensive charge of words and this may vary between countries or regions.
Even in particular situations, the repetitive use of high-sounding words wears down their meanings, making them lose their value and offensive charge.
Some regional differences
Venezuela uses “egg” to refer to the penis, when in most Spanish-speaking countries it means testicle.
In Mexico, roe is boredom, something that is “made of eggs” is important, and a “jerk” is lazy.
A straw is a straw, but a straw can be a small straw (masturbation). Skinny (dick) is also a penis. In Mexico they wear jackets, because jackets are straws.
Examples of high-sounding words
If we follow the pattern of high-sounding types of words, in Spanish-speaking countries these comparisons with animals are used:
1- “Vixen” to refer to a prostitute woman or who constantly prowls men.
2- “Hen” that indicates that a person is a coward.
Regarding those uses to belittle the sexual tendencies of each person, some of the most frequent are:
3- “Marica”, which refers to a homosexual or effeminate man.
4- «Machorra», which would be the equivalent of fag in the case of a woman. That is, a homosexual girl or with tendencies to act like a man.
High-sounding words derived from intercourse or any sexual practice are the most frequent:
5- “Fuck you”, indicating that you are going to have sex and leave him alone.
6- “Eat my ass”, widely used by one person to indicate to the other that they have not done something well or that they are doing something they do not like.
As we indicated, mothers are also the center of several examples of insults, possibly because it is one of the most hurtful things:
7- “Your mother’s shell” is one of the worst insults that can be said to an Argentine. It refers to the sex of the mother of each one.
8- «Your mother cross-eyed» is very typical of Spain. You simply try to be hurtful to the physical appearance of the mother of the insulter.
To indicate that someone has a lower intellectual capacity, or that they act without thinking too much about things, expressions like this are used:
9- «You are a cork oak head» is very disparaging because it makes a simile with the tree from which the cork is extracted.
10- «Gaznápiro», practically in disuse, but very frequent in other times to indicate that a person is clumsy, stupid or peasant.
- Dictionary of the Spanish language – Altisonante: dle.rae.es
- Margarita Espinosa – Something about the history of swearing: razonypalabra.org.mx
- Wikipedia – Bad Language: en.wikipedia.org
- La Nación – Bad words: Rudeness from there, innocence from here: nacion.com
- Dictionary of Mexican rudeness: slavoseternos.blogspot.com