Login/Sign up

World Association of International Studies

PAX, LUX ET VERITAS SINCE 1965
Post The Ubiquitous "Kurva": Eastern Europe's Default Curse Word
Created by John Eipper on 11/28/18 2:56 AM

Previous posts in this discussion:

Post

The Ubiquitous "Kurva": Eastern Europe's Default Curse Word (Istvan Simon, USA, 11/28/18 2:56 am)

John E speculated that kurva ("whore" in Hungarian) originated in Hungary. Not being an expert in etymology I thought this would be better answered by my friend Ed Jajko. I searched for the etymological origins of the word, and it seems that it is of Slavic origin. It is related to curve, so it would be interesting to figure out how it came to mean what it does.

It can be also used also as an adjective in Hungarian, in which case it means more or less the same as "damn," like in "Ez a kurva e'let" (this damn life). It is often used also in conjunction with "anya" (mother) in swearing, like in "a kurva anya'd," which I imagine needs no translation. Anya'd means "your mother."

This may be a result of my Hungarian cultural origins, but I am rarely offended by swearing or "colorful" language. Being fluent in at least 5 languages I find it actually interesting to compare the way people swear.

I was happy to hear that Patrick Mears (November 27th) is also very fond of Hasek's masterpiece. I thought that it was interesting that Catch 22 was inspired by Svejk.

One of the many funny episodes in Svejk is when Svejk is instructed to give all the officer corps the second volume of a book. The book is supposed to be used for sending coded messages by the officers. Svejk figured that it does not make sense to start with the second volume of a book, so he gave the officers the first volume instead. Naturally it did not work very well for the intended purpose.

JE comments: Latin America's "curva peligrosa" (dangerous "kurva") road signs never fail to give me pause...

Here's a sweeping hypothesis:  the more languages you know, the less you are offended by swearing.  My sample group thus far is one:  Istvan Simon.  But I'd add myself to the list, and Aldona too.  My mother, who is monolingual, has never cursed in her life.  (She's a faithful reader of WAIS, which is one reason we don't swear on the Forum--Hi Mom!)

Might there be something to the fact that people with more than one tongue realize that all languages are arbitrary signifiers, as Saussure taught us?  No need to get riled up about arbitrary signs.

Let me put my theory to the test.  Most WAISers know two or more languages.  Who amongst us is offended by "cussing"?


SHARE:
Rate this post
Informational value 
Insight 
Fairness 
Reader Ratings (0)
0%
Informational value0%
Insight0%
Fairness0%

Visits: 145

Comments/Replies

Please login/register to reply or comment: Login/Sign up

  • Kurva and Blyad': Versatile Expletives (Cameron Sawyer, Russia 11/28/18 2:03 PM)

    Istvan Simon's conjecture is correct: kurva is indeed a Slavic word---the universal word for a "whore" in all of the Slavic languages.


    It is not, however, related to "curve," which is "kryva" in Russian and similar in the other Slavic languages. Kurva, rather, is a diminutive of "kura" or chicken.


    The etymologist Fasmer has a good discussion here: http://vasmer.narod.ru/p339.htm , also here: https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/%D0%BA%D1%83%D1%80%D0%B2%D0%B0 "From Old East Slavic курва (kurva, "prostitute, whore"), from Proto-Slavic *kury ("whore"), from *kurъ ("bird, hen; cock")."


    It is interesting to learn that Hungarian uses "kurva" as a universal vulgar operand. Russian has the same thing--the word "blyad'," which can play multiple grammatical roles.


    JE comments:  The first link doesn't seem to work on these shores:  "Web page blocked, according to company policy."  My first reaction was an expletive, but I'll post the link for others to try.



    Some Russians can insert blyad' into nearly every sentence.  It sounds harsher and far "cussier" to the ear, unlike kurva and its variants, which have an almost musical ring.

    Please login/register to reply or comment:

    • Kurwa and Szmata: Venerable International Expletives (Edward Jajko, USA 11/29/18 9:30 AM)
      Rising to the bait offered by Istvan Simon, here are some comments on "kurwa" as well as vulgarisms in general.

      "Kurwa" is not related to "curve." I have found results different from Cameron Sawyer's hypothesis of November 28th; no "little chicken." "Kurwa" (and variants in other spellings in other languages of East and Central Europe) comes from Proto-Indoeuropean /keh-ros/ meaning "love." ("Curve" comes from /ker-wos/.)


      This information comes from Wiktionary (en.m.wiktionary.org). At the site for "kurwa," there is an etymology of the word and a brief but effective description of its use. There is also a long list of synonyms of two meanings of the word. Under its meaning as "slut," one of the Polish words listed is the absolutely hilarious "dupodajka." The same Wiktionary gives a wholly inadequate explanation of this word, which is a compound that I'll allow our editor to seek an explanation for at home. It is funny.


      Another of the extraordinary number of synonyms is "szmata." Those in WAIS who know Yiddish will recognize the borrowing שמאטע, i.e,. "shmate." The word means "rag" and refers to torn cloth used for cleaning, mopping up, etc., then by extension women's dresses (hence "the rag trade.") The word meaning "rag" also got the meaning of "slut, whore." Interestingly, there is an exact parallel in Arabic. The word شوموطة ("sharmutah") means "rag" but also has the slang meaning of "whore."


      With regard to German vulgarisms, referred to by a WAISer in a previous post, I'd like to point out the dictionary of some years ago, Sex im Volksmund: die sexuelle Umgangssprache des deutschen Volkes by Ernest Borneman. I have a copy somewhere. It's amazing how often one might be inadvertently--or purposefully--sexually obscene in speech in German. Words for sausages seem to play a prominent role.


      More about personal encounters with vulgarisms later.


      JE comments:  I've heard szmata in both Yiddish and Polish contexts.  But dupodajka?  It isn't used at WAIS HQ, but the meaning is extremely colorful.  I'm going to go with "arse-nanny."  Ed, is that about right?  And many thanks for your WAIS Wednesday donation!  Rest assured that your zlotys will go far to keep the WAIS lux burning.

      Please login/register to reply or comment:

      • 4000 Years of Shamat, Schmatta, Szmata (A. J. Cave, USA 11/30/18 10:39 AM)
        To follow up on Ed Jajko's post of November 29th, the word shamat (shamhat or shamatu) is Akkadian, and its use goes back to the Epic of Gilgamesh (roughly 2000 BCE). It is both a feminine name (meaning luscious, or voluptuous), and a professional marker (prostitute).

        In Gilgamesh, Shamat is "temple prostitute" who is sent by King Gilgamesh to civilize Enkidu and bring him to the city of Uruk. In Babylon, sex had a religious component and was considered a "me" (strong e, pronounced may), a Sumerian word meaning, cultural norm, a bundle of gifts from the great gods necessary for a civilized life.


        Shamat was called a "harintu", meaning a temple ‎[of Goddess Ishtar] sex worker, not as high as a priestess of Ishtar (Ishtaritu or entu), but obviously known by the king to be up to the task of traveling on foot into the wilderness and tame a wild man with questionable hygiene. A fabulous fearless female. Sort of x-rated Jane to Tarzan.


        JE comments:  Talk about a deep, deep etymology.  Words with origins in proper names are particularly intriguing.  Shamat has endured for four millennia (before even Hector was a pup).  Impressive.

        Please login/register to reply or comment:




Trending Now



All Forums with Published Content (41993 posts)

- Unassigned

Culture & Language

American Indians Art Awards Bestiary of Insults Books Conspiracy Theories Culture Ethics Film Food Futurology Gender Issues Humor Intellectuals Jews Language Literature Media Coverage Movies Music Newspapers Numismatics Philosophy Plagiarism Prisons Racial Issues Sports Tattoos Western Civilization World Communications

Economics

Capitalism Economics International Finance World Bank World Economy

Education

Education Hoover Institution Journal Publications Libraries Universities World Bibliography Series

History

Biographies Conspiracies Crime Decline of West German Holocaust Historical Figures History Holocausts Individuals Japanese Holocaust Leaders Learning Biographies Learning History Russian Holocaust Turkish Holocaust

Nations

Afghanistan Africa Albania Algeria Argentina Asia Australia Austria Bangladesh Belgium Belize Bolivia Brazil Canada Central America Chechnya Chile China Colombia Costa Rica Croatia Cuba Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark East Europe East Timor Ecuador Egypt El Salvador England Estonia Ethiopia Europe European Union Finland France French Guiana Germany Greece Guatemala Haiti Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran (Persia) Iraq Ireland Israel/Palestine Italy Japan Jordan Kenya Korea Kosovo Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Latin America Liberia Libya Mali Mexico Middle East Mongolia Morocco Namibia Nations Compared Netherlands New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria North America Norway Pacific Islands Pakistan Palestine Paraguay Peru Philippines Poland Polombia Portugal Romania Saudi Arabia Scandinavia Scotland Serbia Singapore Slovakia South Africa South America Southeast Asia Spain Sudan Sweden Switzerland Syria Thailand The Pacific Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan UK (United Kingdom) Ukraine USA (America) USSR/Russia Uzbekistan Venezuela Vietnam West Europe Yemen Yugoslavia Zaire

Politics

Balkanization Communism Constitutions Democracy Dictators Diplomacy Floism Global Issues Hegemony Homeland Security Human Rights Immigration International Events Law Nationalism NATO Organizations Peace Politics Terrorism United Nations US Elections 2008 US Elections 2012 US Elections 2016 Violence War War Crimes Within the US

Religion

Christianity Hinduism Islam Judaism Liberation Theology Religion

Science & Technology

Alcohol Anthropology Automotives Biological Weapons Design and Architecture Drugs Energy Environment Internet Landmines Mathematics Medicine Natural Disasters Psychology Recycling Research Science and Humanities Sexuality Space Technology World Wide Web (Internet)

Travel

Geography Maps Tourism Transportation

WAIS

1-TRIBUTES TO PROFESSOR HILTON 2001 Conference on Globalizations Academic WAR Forums Ask WAIS Experts Benefactors Chairman General News Member Information Member Nomination PAIS Research News Ronald Hilton Quotes Seasonal Messages Tributes to Prof. Hilton Varia Various Topics WAIS WAIS 2006 Conference WAIS Board Members WAIS History WAIS Interviews WAIS NEWS waisworld.org launch WAR Forums on Media & Research Who's Who