How you are allowed and not allowed to swear
Here are some tips on what you can use from time to time and what you absolutely can’t.
- Some things are offensive across cultures. Think of what is vulgar in English and you will usually find an equivalent in Czech. One difference is that the Czech equivalents of most English swear words are considered stronger in Czech.
- The word ‘bloody’ or ‘ty vole’ is in many ways the Czech equivalent. It is used to slip the word into sentences for emphasis and emotional impact.
- Some expressions that might seem quite innocent can be more insulting in Czech. For example, word ‘goose’ is an innocuous word for most English speakers, but for Czechs ‘husa’ is not taken mildly even when translated into English. And while ‘cow’ is certainly insulting in English, ‘krava’ is incredibly offensive.
- Some words can be understood only if you understand Czech. For example, ‘do haje’ literally translates as ‘into the woods’, but when the most Czechs use it they are not talking about their plans for the weekend. Another equally curious exclamation is ‘do Prcic’ (to Prcice) which is the destination of an annual hike called Pochod Praha-Prcice.
- When speaking English, Czech people seem to swear a lot. Perhaps a more accurate way to look at this is that Czechs, like any non-native English speakers, are not fully aware of the appropriateness of strong language.
- In one instance, what to an English speaker may sound vulgar is in fact innocent. The word ‘fakt’, often used with the same sense as ‘really’ or ‘totally’, sounds awfully similar to the popular expletive beginning with ‘f’ in English.