You know how in the school French classes (High School or College) they never taught you any useful swear words? Well, I visited Paris recently and found a great way to learn all of the coloful ways in which the French people hurl insults at each other.

1. From anywhere in Paris, hail a taxi.
2. Ask the driver to take you to somewhere about 20 minutes away.

While attempting to either negotiate the insane Paris traffic (if you caught your taxi during the day) or drive drunk (if you caught your taxi late at night) the driver will regail you with a constant stream of French profanities. These are usually directed at other drivers.

If your driver uses the same word over and over again, such as "merde, merde, merde", simply say to him "You know, in the United States we drive much, much better than these smelly Parisians." You will now get to hear a bunch of swear words directed at you.

Well, it should be made clear that the swear words you learn in Paris will not help you in Québec, with the Acadians or with the Cajuns. The French tend to use swear words dealing with bodily functions or that have sexual connotations. Here is a list of some of the most common:
  • salope (=slut)
  • putain (=whore)
  • merde (=shit)
  • chier (=to shit, verb)
So, a Frenchman (or woman, for that matter) may indeed swear at you in the following manner:

"Toi, ma putain de salope, tu me fait chier avec tes trucs de merde!"

Now, the québecois, on the other than, rely mostly on religious material for their swear words, due the early and pervasive influence of the Catholic church. Here is a list of the some of the most common swear words used in Québec:

  • tabarnac (=tabarnacle)
  • calisse (=chalice)
  • hostie (=the host)
  • ciboire (=another cup)
  • christ (=Christ)
So, a Quebecker might swear at you in the following manner:

"Hostie! Toi (pronounced 'tway'), mon tabarnac de ciboire de St. Sulpice, tu me fais chier en christ!"

Finally, the Acadians swear like the Quebecois, but with healthy and regular doses of English thrown in. For example:

"Toi, mon christ, t'est completement fucked up!"

I regret to say that I can't pronounce myself with any authority on the swearing mores of the Cajuns since I haven't been able to piss one off enough to elicit such an outburst. Or, perhaps I have and I wasn't able to understand what the hell they were saying....

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