Talk Dirty to Me

by David McAninch


During the final hours of Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo, one of Bonaparte's generals, a certain Cambronne, found himself hopelessly outnumbered by the enemy. Asked to surrender, the general is said to have raised his sabre and hurled across the barricades a single, defiant syllable: Merde!

This was most likely the sound left ringing in the ears of his men as they ate Prussian lead. With one celebrated utterance, that five-letter word—known ever since as the mot de Cambronne—became the quintessential French oath. It is, however, just one among scores of delicious curses that make up the lexicon of Gallic naughty words—words that, once mastered, can provide a lifetime of service.

_________________________________________________

Naughty word and how to say it:
merde
You should already know how it's pronounced, but just in case: "mayrd."

What it means:
General equivalent of "shit," usually as in "aw shit."

When it's used:
Does not commonly refer to waste matter (that's caca). Usually uttered slowly in exasperation, as when having just dropped one's keys down the hole of a Turkish toilet: meeeerd-euh.

Raunchy relatives:
emmerder, as in Tu m'emmerdes!—"You're bugging the shit out of me." (Literally, "You be-shit me.") tas de merde—pile of shit.

_________________________________________________

Naughty word and how to say it:
putain
Pronounced "pu-teh."

What it means:
Literally, "whore," but nowadays used as a spastic expletive.

When it's used:
Ejaculated in sudden fury or frustration, like "Crap!" or "Fuck!" Occasionally uttered slowly, even whispered, as when witnessing an ID4 invasion:
puuuu-tain.

Raunchy relatives:
putain de merde—stronger version of putain.

_________________________________________________

Naughty word and how to say it:<BR> con
Pronounced "cone," but with a nasal "o" and without the "n."

What it means: Literally, "cunt." When it's used: The most generative of French curses, it's used everywhere and anywhere as a catch-all epithet—the word just keeps on giving. C'est un vrai con—"He's a real asshole." Petit con!—"Little prick!" Gros con!-"Fat bastard!" Raunchy relatives: connard—jerk. connasse—bitch. faire une connerie—to fuck up. deconner quelqu'un—to fuck around with somebody. _________________________________________________ Naughty word and how to say it: cul Pronounced "koo," with a very puckered "u." What it means: Literally, "ass." When it's used: A building block of French potty-talk, it has a thousand uses: A film de cul is a porn flick; a beau cul is a "nice ass," and so on. Raunchy relatives: Cul has some very naughty cognates: enculer—to bugger. se faire enculer—to get buggered, screwed over. trou de cul—literally, the asshole. _________________________________________________ Naughty word and how to say it: Some more body parts! bite—pronounced "beet." nichons—pronounced "nee-chon." couilles—pronounced "koo-ee." What it means: bite—dick. nichons—boobs. couilles—balls. When it's used: Whenever trash talk is appropriate, in bed or otherwise. Raunchy relatives: These gems pretty much stand alone, except couilles, which, like our "balls" gives rise to expressions like Tu me casses les couilles—"You're busting my balls." _________________________________________________ Naughty word and how to say it: chier Pronounced "shee-ay." What it means: Literally, "to shit." When it's used: Not usually invoked to refer to doing "number two" (that's faire caca). Best used in one of its lively retinue of expressions (see "Raunchy relatives"). Raunchy relatives: Tu me fais chier!— like emmerder, "You bug the crap out of me." C'est a chier—"It's not worth a shit." les chiottes—"the can, the shitter." _________________________________________________ Naughty word and how to say it: baiser Pronounced "be-zay." What it means: In the old days, it simply meant "to kiss." Currently the official equivalent of "to fuck." A good reflexive verb: Ils se baisent—"They're fucking." When it's used: When you ain't talkin' about love. Raunchy relatives: baisodrome—word coined by French high-schoolers to describe a particularly orgiastic make-out party. One of the all-time great naughty neologisms.   <end> _________________________________________________



David McAninch is assistant editor at a New York publishing house (not dirty books) and used to teach French curse words to his students when he was a French T.A. in grad school and had run out of material half way through the class.