When people claim they don’t know English, they’re lying. There’s a handful of words everyone knows. In fact, they’re the words people are most eager to learn in any language.
No, I’m not talking about “hello” or “hi”. It’s not “what’s your name” or “where’s the bathroom” either.
The vocabulary that everybody wants to know are the four letter words (also known as cuss words):
English has a lot of cuss words that go beyond four letters, but maybe I can cover that some other time. The important thing to know is, they’re a huge part of our culture.
They’re in our movies. Some of the most popular catch phrases of all time include them:
“Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.” – Gone With the Wind
“Get your stinking paws off me, you damned dirty ape.” – Planet of the Apes
The celebrities we idolize use them inside and outside of acting roles too!
They show a wide variety of emotions. When we’re angry, we say “fuck you!” When we’re in disbelief, we say “Are you fucking kidding me?!”
If you learn to understand cuss words, there’s no doubt you’d be pretty savvy to a language.
I would, however, suggest that you try to keep its usage to a minimum. Yeah, you might sound like a native speaker. Sure, it might be fun. But an excess of foul language can really hurt your image.
Using cuss words never makes you sound smart.
And the problem I’ve seen with a lot of internationals who try to cuss is 1) they don’t get the pronunciation down and 2) they don’t know how to turn it off. Trying to cuss with an accent can make your English sound much worse. And cussing in situations in which you shouldn’t be (i.e. around small children) makes you seem like an poor mannered idiot.
Beware the four letter words!