What does li mortacci mean in Italian?
Of saints, fish, and all the relatives
Swearing: Romance languages vs. German
Curse. One might think that something so original is expressed in the same way, but only between the languages German, Italian and within Spanish itself are differences.
“Me cago en la puta madre de Jesus, en su padre y en toda su jodida corte celestial!” which was something like "I shit on the damned mother of Jesus, on his father and on all his damn heavenly followers!" means, shows how important it is to have a thorough knowledge of Catholicism in Spain if one is to flee. Basically you don't give a shit about everything: saints, food, body parts and / or relatives of the other person. Often one wishes the offended person to have sexual experiences with animals, such as “que te folle un pez” (may a fish fuck you) proves.
A dictionary is good enough for a German-speaking person in Colombia: A large part of the curse words used there are also used here, although some words depend on the area, whether for example “marica” buddy (as in Medellín) or fagot (as actually in Rest of the country). You can also call out things like “jueputa” (son of a bitch), “hijoemadre” (mother’s son) or “la gorda” (the fat woman) when a situation and not a person is meant, like when you say shit or fuck in German. In Colombia people prefer to say puta (/ - o) to describe something as unpleasant, which literally corresponds to the Swiss “huere”.
The special thing about Italian is that the curse vocabulary is huge. There are innumerable combinations, including very creative ones. It goes from “piú scemo non potevi nascere” (born stupid, nothing learned) to “puzzi come la fogna” (you stink like the sewer system). In order to get an insult to the point, however, the relatives (mother, father, also deceased) are always dealt with: “figlio di puttana” (son of a bitch) or more elaborate: “li mortacci tua, de tuo nonno, de tua madre e de ¾ da palazzina tua ”(Fuck your dead relatives, and those of your grandfather, and those of your mother, and those of three quarters of your apartment block). The most common curse words, also only used as an exclamation, are “cazzo” / “minchia” (tail) and “merda” (shit), often in combination with face or piece. Even in arch-Catholic Italy, of course, the blasphemous exclamations should not be missing, such as “porco dio” (literally: pig god, in the sense of damn god).
Comparison to German
In (European) Spanish and Italian, in contrast to German (and Colombian Spanish), curse words such as “puta” or “porco” can simply be used as negative adjectives for other things, which are then not literally, but rather with damned (-s / -r) should translate. In addition, the pictorial, almost poetic Italian / Spanish insults and exclamations, despite the large swear vocabulary, are peppered with the same swear words, while the monosyllabic German tends to fall back on the large vocabulary of swear words focused on excrement and sexual matters.
Conclusion: No matter how offensive you get in German, in Italian and Spanish you can always tinker with something much worse.
Tomás Recke & Andrea Pezzoni
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