A responsible traveler won't set foot in another country without knowing how to viciously insult the people in their native language. Odds are, you won't even make it out of the airport before a situation arises that requires obscenities.
But "obscenity" is an ever-moving target. It's an amalgamation of cultural taboos, the impact of current events and your mom. Accordingly, every country has developed a uniquely beautiful set of curses and insults that set it apart. While some insults are broadly accessible, like your mom, others will require a little background for the new student. Thus, we offer this helpful guide to the best and most vulgar (and very real) insults from around the world:
Who Said That? The Spanish.
Dear God Why?
How does a culture wind up with "suck the butter from my ass" as an insult? It's starts with "Me cago en la leche," meaning "I shit in the milk." It's a common statement that's essentially a variant of "Damnit!" We're unsure how milk + poop = a jaunty, multipurpose expletive, but here we are.
Other helpful Spanish phrases:
When dookie is used for even the most pedestrian exclamations, more heated applications escalate the filth factor pretty rapidly:
"I shit on your dead" (Me cago en tus muertos)
"I shit on God" (Me cago en Dios)
"I shit in/on your whore mother" (Me cago en tu puta madre)
Note that's "in" or "on," we guess depending on how she likes it.
And the list goes on. These folks just love shit. Basically you can hold your own in any argument in Spain if you're creative enough with where you deposit your waste matter. If you're a man who is sharp enough to destroy someone with this virtualized shit-flinging, pride may reward you with a "Brazo de santo," which literally translates to "arm of a saint" which means a full erection.
Who Said That? The Arabs.
Dear God Why?
If you thought Spanish had an unusual fixation with fecal matter allow the Arabs to put it in perspective with their penis-based potshots. Describing someone as a "fatah" (foreskin) alone is considered a grave insult and that's only the tip of the proverbial/metaphorical ... iceberg.
Other helpful Arabic phrases:
"May you be struck by a dick" (Air il'e yoshmotak)
"My dick in your conscience" (Airy fe dameerak)
"My dick in your mother's rib cage" (Eyreh be afass seder emmak)
That's not to say they're just smut peddlers insult-wise. Some of the most disrespectful things you can say are 100 percent penis-free like "Surmayye a'raasac" (A shoe is on your head). The foot is considered the most filthy part of the body, courtesy of their deserts not having any shortages on dirt. To direct your foot at someone verbally or physically means you aren't hiding your contempt, as vividly demonstrated by the thousands of Nike treads upside Saddam's bronze dome (right).
That explanation was a lot easier to track back than "Yela'an sabe'a jad lak" (Damn your seventh grandfather), which is the deepest scope of damnation demonstrated by any culture thus far. We're not sure about the relevance of the "seventh," but we do respect that kind of surgical precision when trying to denigrate someone's family.
Who Said That? The Irish.
Dear God Why?
Many classic curses from Ireland come out of Gaelic, which gives them a more folksy, old-timey appeal. Such as, "Go n-ithe an cat thu, is go n-ithe an diabhal an cat" (May the cat eat you, and may the devil eat the cat).
Other helpful Irish phrases:
Gaelic really does its best work when it is conjuring up ways to describe foul acts. Sure, it's faster to say two people were fucking, but wouldn't you rather describe it as skin-hitting ("bualadh craicinn") or leather stretching ("streachailt leathair")?
The majority of Ireland does not speak Gaelic, but that hasn't hindered a bustling industry of filthy slang and occasionally rustic vernacular:
"Piss artist" (alcoholic)
"As Thick As Manure And Only Half As Useful."
Who Said That? Bulgarians.
Dear God Why?
Bulgarian cursing is based on a hybrid of nature references and non sequiturs. Most of the good ones read like Tourette's syndrome Mad Libs. They still embrace common baselines, but the modifiers around it are what really shine. For instance:
Other helpful Bulgarian phrases:
"Your mother sucks bears in the forest" (Mayka ti duha na mechki v gorata)
"Fuck this tilted field" (Da eba taz kreeva neeva)
"You're as ugly as a salad" (Grozna si kato salata)
Some of them are so elaborate, it's not entirely clear which part to be offended by.
For instance, when someone tells you "Nosa ti e kato ruska putka" (Your nose is like a Russian pussy), should you be enraged at the comparison to a Russian or a vagina? And it's no different when being called "Pederas grozen gyrbaw prokazhen" (an unsightly hunchbacked leper queer). It sounds like swearing constructed from a profanity combo menu (please select one aspersion from Columns A, B and C).
The real strength of this approach is having the ability to offend those unfazed by unattractive gay leper jokes, but with a deep personal hatred of hunchbacks.
Who Said That? The Chinese (Mandarin).
Dear God Why?
Stop the presses! Though this is not technically damning. The Chinese have managed to smash the previous seven-generation threshold for familial insults through this little gem. Take that, Arabic.
Other helpful Mandarin phrases:
While Mandarin has a wealth of generalized insults for the intellectually stunted ("Sha gua" means retard--literally "stupid melon"), it really brings the heat with insults that don't sound at all insulting.
"Wear a green hat." This doesn't sound particularly offensive until you understand that green hats were a component of the male brothel workers uniform during the Tang dynasty. These brothels were so prominent that some historians speculate the Tang dynasty was actually named after the amount of poozle they serviced rather than the emperor's family. References to green hats can challenge the fidelity of someone's wife or suggest someone's father is an anonymous man whore.
"Your mother is a big turtle" (Nide muchin shr ega da wukwei). Again, means nothing without context. But because a turtle doesn't know its father, it's a creative way of calling someone a bastard.
We'd probably still opt for "cho yade" (smelly slave wench), but we're steeped in a different tradition.