Why Taboo Words Are Important in the Field
But there are many ways of speaking Spanish--any language, really--and among these, is the stylish use of slang, and colorful incorporation of taboo terms like swear words, profanity, and dirty words. Believe it or not, words such as these pop up in interview situations, and other contexts of field observation and participation. Sometimes it becomes my task to swear right along with my participants, or at least empathize with their animated excitement or frustration.
Speech communities are constantly innovating new turns of phrase, and American English is no exception. Can you imagine if you didn't know the loaded meanings of the now ubiquitous "balls" or "surfboard"? (Haha, you'll have to go urban dictionary for more information, I'm afraid that would be too much of a digression to explain here.)
In this blog post, I describe a recent episode in which I appropriately used some dirty slang here in Mexico, and how this led to a unique opportunity for intercultural learning. I also share a new list of dirty words I learned just last week in Oaxaca City, with a discussion of why I think these colorful words should be more purposefully included on your own list of survival vocabulary.