It’s strange, but as an immature male who is learning another language, I’ve never really thought a lot about swearing in Korean… I know a few words, but not many, and I’m not even sure if the ones I know are real, or if people are just screwing with me and telling me fake words. Mostly, I learn bad words through my friend, Brian, who in turn learns them from the Korean players on his football team. So when I do learn a word, it’s never written down or put entirely in context, and I’m left to wonder whether the pronunciation is lost, like in Chinese Whispers…
I’ve never owned a Korean dictionary, either, because I use two textbooks when I learn (Korean Made Easy andFirst Step in Korean). Consequently, my grasp of grammar is decent enough, whereas my vocabulary sucks. The people who help me learn are generally co-workers, and random people I meet when out and about. Not many of them talk about genitals or excrement.
The problem is that I’ve always needed something to be written AND spoken for me to really understand. I’m terribly paranoid that people are either lying, or I’m too stupid and I’ve misunderstood, and so I like to be able to check. Consequently, the random bad words I hear tend to go in one ear and out the other. If I can’t see the spelling or fully hear about the definition, then I remain skeptical.
But then along came Google Translate and my new laptop with a Korean keyboard! Suddenly, any time I need to know a word in Korean, or find out an English meaning for something I’d otherwise simply guess, I just have to ask Google. It didn’t take long before I strayed from translating the functions on my computer to entering words I’d heard and always wondered about…
The most recent word I’d heard was 사정, which I’d been told mean ‘spooge’ or ‘semen’. It wasn’t listed in either of my beginner guides to Korean, and I had never heard the word in conversation, so I wondered if it really meant what I was told. I tried Googling a transliteration, but with no success. Then, with my discovery of Google Translate, I found the following:
Not only does 사정 mean what I’d been told it means, but it seemingly means everything else, too! 사정means ejaculation, circumstances, business, shot, carry, affair, bias… and RIGHT AND WRONG! 사정 seems to mean just about anything in Korean. One can only imagine the misunderstandings that may arise.
Of course, once I’d satisfied my curiosity for the word ‘사정’ I immediately entered a few more choice words in search of some valuable argument settlers. The word I most wanted explained was 죽죽사, which I’ve been told means ‘jerk off’, but is not entirely literal. It means, I think, more ‘keep going’ than ‘wanking’. But Google Translate failed me and provided only a crude transliteration.
Another word was 씨발, which I thought was spelled 시발. This, apparently, means ‘fuck’, but I also thought it meant something more like, but not literally, ‘motherfucker’. It’s usually followed by the equivalent of ‘dog baby’ for son-of-a-bitch, but again the translator was foiling my crude investigation. I think, though that it’s something like this: 씨발개새끼.
One word I remembered from almost a year ago, when a Korean friend tried to teach me the essentials, is 엿먹으라고, which means ‘fuck you’. I’m sure the version Mina taught me was shorter, but I’m not sure how it was spelled (엿먹어라 – maybe).
With those little puzzles finally solved, I pushed further and decided to translate all seven of those unholiest of words: George Carlin’s ‘The Seven Words You Can Never Say On TV’
1.Shit – 젠장. Isn’t this part of the name of a show on Korean TV that shows dumb Americans almost killing themselves in hilarious accidents? 젠장뉴스? I think so… So that would make the show’s name ‘Shit News’?
2.Piss – 오줌 (noun) or 오줌 누다 (verb)
3.Fuck – 씨발. We already covered this one…
4.Cunt –나쁜년. Apparently ‘vagina’ is 질, so I’m not sure exactly what the difference is…
5.Cocksucker –뻐꾸기. I was pretty surprised that this phrase had a literal translation. It’s not really a commonly used term, and so I thought it would have been translated as something like ‘the fellator of penises’… Apparently not. (Penis is 음경)
6.Motherfucker –새끼. I’ve also read that this means ‘bastard’, but usually when I hear this it’s from a really drunk or violent person, and so I assume it’s much harsher than ‘bastard’.
7.Tits –가슴. I thought that 지지 meant ‘tits’ or ‘nipples’ but apparently not. I’m saddened by this discovery, as I spent most of my time in Vietnam singing songs about 지지s… Damn.